BART gears up for big night, tragic anniversary

December 31, 2009 7:32:09 PM PST
BART is gearing up for a big night and also a tragic anniversary.

Oscar Grant was shot and killed by a BART police officer last New Year's Day at the Fruitvale BART station.

However, it will be a very different BART police force on patrol tonight as compared with a year ago.

"We're going to have many more than we had last year and they will be operating in teams and hopefully what happened last year will not again because we do have defined leadership in charge tonight. It's not going to be a free for all," says BART director Lynette Sweet.

Sweet says an unclear chain of command contributed to the fatal shooting of Grant. Former BART Officer Johannes Mehserle was charged with his murder and is awaiting trial in Los Angeles.

The shooting has lead to an overhaul of BART police.

"I know that once we get a new police chief on board that will help things out. I know that when we get our civilian review panel actually seated, that will really give me a good feeling about the direction BART police are going," says Sweet.

BART will also be getting help from the Alameda County Sheriffs who will patrol the five BART stations between Fruitvale and Hayward.

"Deputies are aware of the situation of what happened last year. We haven't heard any additional information that there is going to be any problems. In fact, the Grant family has asked for peace and we believe that there will be peace tonight and that there won't be any problems," says Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson.

Elsewhere in Oakland, they are gearing up for what should be a big night. Luka's Taproom and Lounge is getting ready with their own private security, but knows backup is available if necessary.

"We hope the police is on our side, we hope the BART cops is on everybody's side and that there's no funny business going on," says Luke Thordarson, a Luka's D.J.

BART expects to have a new police chief in place sometime around April.

BART transportation information

If you're taking the Richmond/Bay Point train from San Francisco, you'll want to get on that train at the Montgomery Street BART station.

If you're taking the Fremont and Dublin/Pleasanton trains, you'll want to get on those trains at the Embarcadero BART station.