SAN FRANCISCO—In the wake of the latest acts of police brutality, calls to defund the police have swept the nation. On Friday, June 19 BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) took the first steps to defunding its police.
The company’s leaders agreed to shift the initially intended use of $2 million earmarked for COVID-19 costs. Instead of hiring five more sworn officers and four more fare inspectors, that money will be spent on increasing the number of unarmed ambassadors. According to BART director Rebecca Saltzman, the ambassadors will patrol trains and make riders feel welcome.
Additionally, BART Police Chief Ed Alvarez agreed to start training his force to follow Assembly Bill (AB) 392. This state law that took effect January 1, 2020 states that police should only use deadly force when in defense of human life and should always attempt de-escalation techniques first. Also, BART Board President Lateefah Simon wants to add at least one staff member to BART’s Office of the Independent Public Auditor which looks into complaints of police misconduct. However, it is currently uncertain how much this addition will cost.
These three changes are part of BART’s commitment to reforming its police department and ensuring safety.
The Board will consider these and other changes like its new budget at its next meeting on June 25.