Deadline looms in BART police oversight

August 24, 2009 5:24:48 PM PDT
Eight months after the fatal shooting of a young man on a BART platform, the agency's board of directors is pleading with Bay Area legislators. They want the state law changed to allow the creation of a citizen's oversight committee and they want it done before the September recess.

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However, it is not that simple.

BART police have been under a microscope since the New Year's Day shooting of Oscar Grant. BART's board of directors unanimously voted earlier this month to create a citizen oversight committee and hire an independent auditor. But, that requires state approval.

On Monday, along with ministers and community leaders, they asked Bay Area lawmakers to act immediately before they take a recess in September.

"We don't have the luxury of going back to the community and saying, 'We worked hard and we tried, but we just couldn't get it done.' Those folks don't want to hear that," BART board member Lynette Sweet told ABC7.

BART is specifically calling on San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano. He introduced oversight legislation right after the Oscar Grant shooting, but delayed it at BART's request to allow the transit agency an opportunity to come up with its own plan. Ammiano says BART's measure is weak and allows police representatives on the panel.

He says he will not rush forward with it.

"And so now all of a sudden the poobas at BART, who got caught with their pants down, are saying, 'Oh no. Now we have to go fast. We have to do something. We have to have a Band-aid,'" he said.

Oscar Grant's uncle says he does not fully understand the legislative process, but the family would like some action taken to help heal the pain of what happened at the Fruitvale BART station.

Oscar Grant's uncle Cephus Johnson told ABC7, "Delayed justice is no justice at all. This is in some form a way of receiving some justice."

Unless another member of the legislature steps up, it seems unlikely that BART's proposed oversight committee will become reality by the first anniversary of the shooting.

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