BART committee begins police review

May 2, 2009 6:44:36 PM PDT
A newly-formed BART committee began taking a hard look at its police department Saturday. The committee was formed after a BART officer shot and killed a passenger on New Year's Day.

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The group hoped to get feedback and suggestions Saturday but instead they got a lot of criticism from people who say BART is not doing enough and not moving fast enough.

"This has been since January 1st," Wanda Johnson told the committee. "You guys should have come up with some kind of plan to train these officers, these other officers, so that this situation does not happen again. This is showing a lack of concern. This is a lack of concern."

Johnson is Oscar Grant's mother. Grant was killed when he was shot in the back on a BART platform on New Year's Day. BART officer Johannes Mehserle is charged with his murder and has pleaded not guilty.

While the criminal case makes its way through the courts, BART is doing its own series of investigations and review. Their panel is trying to figure out if a civilian review board should be created for BART, and if so, what it should look like.

On Saturday the board took public input for the first time. Some people commented on the different models that were presented, but mostly they criticized BART even berating some of the committee members at times.

Still, BART officials say they walked away with some useful feedback.

"You know, it'll be rough and it'll be consuming. This is still really raw for a lot of people, but I think we're going to get all the way through, come up with a civilian review process that works for folks," said board member Rad Ilovich.

Six armed officer were present at the meeting. For the first time in the agency's 36-year history officers searched peoples' bags. They were motivated by a protestor who threw red paint on the general manager during the BART meeting in April.

Saturday's meeting was calm and nothing out of the ordinary happened. The next such meeting is scheduled for May 16th.

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