BART to discuss citizen oversight


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BART directors want to have citizen oversight of the Police Department in the wake of an incident early New Year's Day at the Fruitvale station in Oakland in which former Officer /*Johannes Mehserle*/ shot and killed unarmed passenger /*Oscar Grant*/ III after he and other officers responded to reports that there was a fight on a train.

Mehserle resigned a week after the shooting and has been ordered to stand trial on a murder charge.

Director Lynette Sweet, a member of BART's Police Department Review Committee, which was formed after Grant was killed, said, "We needed citizen oversight a long time ago but unfortunately it took an incident like Oscar Grant's death to make us do it."

Director Carle Ward Allen, who chairs the Police Department Review Committee, said, "Our goal is to provide an effective, independent citizen oversight system that promotes integrity and encourages systemic change and improvement in the police services BART provides to the public."

The draft proposal of the citizen oversight model includes an independent auditor who is appointed by and reports directly to the BART board, an 11-member citizen board, the power to investigate complaints against officers and the power to recommend discipline against officers.

Sweet said the proposal calls for each of the nine BART board members to name one person to the citizen board, the two BART police unions to jointly appoint one member and for there to be one public-at-large member appointed by the BART board.

Ward Allen said, "The proposed model of citizen oversight would ensure that internal police accountability systems are functioning properly, that behavioral, procedural and policy deficiencies are identified and addressed."

She said, "The Office of the Independent Police Auditor would be responsible for investigating all complaints thoroughly, fairly and objectively for all parties involved."

Ward Allen said the auditor would be responsible for investigating specific complaints, including racial profiling and allegations of racially abusive treatment.

She said, "The Citizen Board would provide public transparency into the activities of the BART Police Department by reviewing reports of complaints and allegations of police misconduct and reviewing and commenting on all changes to procedures and practices, including police training."

Sweet said, "It is vitally important that our customers have faith in our police department" and she hopes by forming a citizen oversight system "we can reaffirm people's trust in our police force."

The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the MetroCenter auditorium located at 101 Eighth St. in Oakland, across the street from BART's Lake Merritt Station.

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