Can BART really stop drug use on its trains?

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ByVic Lee KGO logo
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Can BART really stop drug use on its trains?
Cellphone videos taken by passengers on BART on three different trains show the same man smoking meth.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Cellphone videos taken by passengers on BART on three different trains show the same thing -- the same man smoking meth. To add insult to injury, the man is sitting in what BART has labeled a priority seat, a seat reserved for people with disabilities and pregnant women.

Other passengers seem obvlivious to what's going on, except for the persons recording the incident.

This cellphone video taken by ABC7's Reggie Aqui shows a man doing drugs on a BART train in San Francisco in June 2018.

We showed the videos to BART passengers and they all said BART police should have been notified.

One told ABC7 News it reflected a "societal problem" no different than what's going on around San Francisco.

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The transit agency responded with an interview, telling us the most prudent thing passengers should do when encountering something like this is to go on the BART watch app to notify BART cops.

BART spokesman Chris Filippi says the app is monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week and that police will board the train when the alert is sent.

They can issue a citation in this case for a misdemeanor low drug offense. But chances are the person will have most likely left by the time police respond.

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That's a problem because officers have to witness it personally. The other thing passengers can do is make a citizens arrest. But that entails staying on the train and identifying the person for police. Again, that's presuming the person is still aboard.

BART also can prohibit that suspect from riding its system by putting him on a "no ride list." But the prohibition list is only active for a certain period of time.

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Finally, the biggest problem BART has in its fight against drugs is one that also applies to the bigger picture. Low-level drug offenses like smoking drugs on trains is normally a misdemeanor. And as such, the penalties are minimal. If there is any jail time, its likely an overnight stay and they're back on the streets again.

BART spokesman Filippi said that's why the system is actively investing in a more comprehensive rehab program to help drug addicts get off drugs and change their lives.

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