NOBLE's review will bring BART PD changes

October 1, 2009 6:25:11 PM PDT
BART's police force will get a major overhaul. That's the result of a scathing review presented to the BART Board of Directors on Thursday. The audit was ordered after the New Year's Day shooting of an unarmed passenger -- Oscar Grant.

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The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, or NOBLE, delivered its four-month, 300-page report to the BART board saying the BART Police Department needs to reinvent itself at virtually every level including hiring, training, discipline, community outreach and its use of force policy.

NOBLE member Lou Dekmar is chief of the La Grange, Georgia Police Department. He says BART's use of force policies are confusing.

"Currently they're in operations directives, special order bulletins and written directives. There should be just one use of force," says Chief Dekmar.

Improved officer training could be one of the first changes implemented.

"We have police officers whose morale is down and if this report is correct, they're not really trained like we'd like them to be and that needs to be corrected quickly. You don't want someone with a gun and a bad attitude," says BART board member Lynette Sweet.

BART Police Officers Association president Jesse Sekhon says officer morale is down, but they are looking forward to the changes.

"We've always wanted more training, wouldn't get any argument from anybody here. We want to be trained, we want to be well trained. I think it just comes down to budgets and how much BART is willing to invest in their police department," says Sekhon.

Lt. Craig Savage is president of the BART Police management union.

"Some of the suggestions are painful, and they probably will be painful and that's how personal will probably take them, but I'm drawing a blank of some of the suggestions, but obviously, I think some could be made pretty rapidly," says Savage.

Oscar Grant, 22, was shot and killed by BART Officer Johannes Mehserle on New Year's Day. Mehserle resigned and is charged with murder. His lawyer says he mistakenly fired his gun instead of his Taser.

BART Police and board members are meeting on Monday to come up with a plan for implementing changes.

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