BART adds 12 new police officers on night trains between San Francisco and Oakland

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Starting this week, expect to see more BART police officers not just on the platform but actually riding the trains.

BART has added 12 new police officers designated to trains between San Francisco and Oakland. The hope is to decrease crime.

The new initiative comes after the deadly stabbing on a BART train in Hayward last year, which led to calls for more safety measures on trains.

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"We've listened to our riders and they've asked for more police presence on weekends and at nighttime, so that's going to be their primary focus," BART Deputy Chief Lance Haight told ABC7 News.

The 12 officers will work in pairs from 2 p.m. to midnight, seven days a week.

"On a max day, we'd have all 12 here and some days, depending on scheduling, it could be fewer than that," Haight explained.

BART police say they hope the increase in officers will lead to a decrease in all levels of crime, particularly cell phone thefts, which they've recently seen more of.

"With an extra layer of security, officers walking through the trains and the stations' would-be thieves, will recognize that," Haight said, "And it will be a less opportune place for them to be able to steal cell phones."

But not all people feel safer with the increased police presence. Margaret Fine, a human rights lawyer riding BART on Monday, said she believes having mental health workers riding trains could be more helpful.

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"Given the number of people who are unhoused and who have mental health issues, substance abuse issues, I wonder: Where is the mental health response to this?" Fine told ABC7 News.

Haight explained that all their officers are trained in how to interact with people suffering from mental illnesses.

The new initiative, which launched Monday, comes ahead of a new ambassador program BART plans to launch next month. As part of the ambassador program, 10 community service officers will also patrol BART trains at night - seven days a week.
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