BART affirms commitment to progressive policing and fighting racism

06.19.20

BART affirms commitment to progressive policing and fighting racism

Download a PDF factsheet of BART's commitment to progressive policing

BART leadership is taking steps to build upon 10 years of reforms and continuous improvements to advance progressive and equitable policing and the commitment to fight racism.  BART Board President Lateefah Simon, who is leading Governor Newsom’s new statewide task force on police reform, BART General Manager Bob Powers, and BART Police Chief Ed Alvarez today announced a series of police reforms, expanded training, and new initiatives to bolster oversight and increase the number of unarmed civilian employees providing presence in the system.

These new initiatives and an overview of the reforms implemented over the past decade will be presented at the next BART Board of Directors meeting on Thursday, June 25.

“We are taking our commitment of 21st century policing a step further,” said Board President Lateefah Simon. “I support Chief Alvarez and the department’s relentless training efforts and I plan to work hand in hand with the agency and the community to implement an enhanced vision of public safety.”   

New BPD Policy Updates and Expanded Training

On June 12, 2020 Police Chief Ed Alvarez updated BPD’s use-of-force policy to ban the use of carotid control holds. Previously it was only justifiable under circumstances where deadly force was warranted.

BART is now rolling out three new police training initiatives:

  • Chief Alvarez, General Manager Bob Powers, and Board President Lateefah Simon will work together to explore and establish the creation of a community based, anti-racism training course. 
  • Chief Alvarez, in coordination with the Independent Police Auditor Russell Bloom, will deploy Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics (ICAT) training to the annual advanced officer training curriculum. ICAT provides officers with the skills to safely respond to situations involving persons who are unarmed or are armed with weapons other than firearms, and who may be experiencing a mental health or other crisis.
  • Chief Alvarez will update the department’s interactive simulator training tools to reflect the new requirement for restraint under Assembly Bill 392. BPD will be on the cutting-edge of crafting interactive, scenario-based, video training related to this new law.

“The process of reform is never complete, and my department is committed to continuous improvement through policy changes and ongoing training that exceeds industry standards,” said Chief Alvarez.  The annual training provided to BART police officers exceeds the standards set by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). POST requires 24 hours of advanced officer training every two years. BPD officers are trained for a minimum of 24 hours annually which includes bias-based policing, crisis intervention, cultural competence, and de-escalation.

In March of this year BPD along with the BART Police Officers’ Association, the BART Police Managers’ Association, and the Office of the Independent Police Auditor agreed to recalibrate body camera equipment to include a one-minute buffer with audio prior to activation.  That’s a 100% increase from the previous 30-second silent buffer.  In 2012 BPD was among the first agencies in the country to require officers to wear body cameras.

New Initiatives

BART’s General Manager will immediately make resources available to allow the Office of the Independent Police Auditor to increase oversight activities. These resources will speed up the completion of investigations and strengthen community connections and will revitalize the complaint mediation program.  BART’s Citizen Oversight Model is among the strongest in the country.

“BART will continue to listen to communities, learn from experts and collaborate with advocates,” said Powers.  “Being responsive to calls for reform from the community is a critical part of establishing a culture of accountability within the BART Police Department.”

Powers is also pledging $2 million in operating funds originally identified for pandemic enforcement using sworn officers and fare inspectors to instead be re-allocated to increasing the number of unarmed civilian employees providing presence in the system. BART Director Rebecca Saltzman first presented this budget adjustment and now Powers will work with the BART Board to determine if new positions will expand the Ambassador program launched last year or another type of social service program.

The District has prioritized advancing systemic racial equity by participating in the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) training series.  This effort stretches across the agency as members of eight BART departments have now begun a year-long training. Participants gain awareness of the history of race and of implicit and explicit bias and individual, institutional, and structural racism and how it impacts the workplace; gain skills at identifying and addressing institutional and structural racism; and increase capacity to advance racial equity. The Office of the Independent Police Auditor played a leading role in bringing this training to the District.

“While we work with all stakeholders to envision and craft the future of policing, I and my staff will remain vigilant in our efforts to provide independent misconduct investigations with reasoned, evidence-backed findings, and to examine policies and practices to identify areas for improvement and evolution,” said Russell Bloom, BART’s Independent Police Auditor.

Learn more about BART’s on-going commitment to progressive policing by viewing the presentation that will be presented to the BART Board on Thursday.