SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Less than two weeks after BART finished installing security cameras in every single train car, the agency is answering questions about how and when they will share that video, specifically when it comes to telling the public about crimes committed on BART.
The director feels very differently from some management at BART. A BART spokesperson says the reason the agency chooses not to put out press releases or video of certain crimes, like cellphone robberies, is because they feel the release of video "stir up racial animosity."
"We have seen, as a result of that kind of reporting, an increase in calls to our call centers, an increase in our emails and on social media of racially charged invective," BART spokesperson Taylor Huckaby said.
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"It's the sort of thing they release it and everyone gets a little more sketchy with people of color or things like that," BART regular Benjamin Zagorski said. "I can see that being an issue and I don't think that justifies not telling the public anything when it comes to crime."
Since April, there have been three cellphone robbery incidents on BART and on Friday night, a victim says he was followed off BART by a group of teenagers who attacked and robbed him on the UC Berkeley campus. But BART doesn't regularly provide public crime notices.
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ABC7 News asked Huckaby why BART didn't, for example, put out a press release after the April 22 incident when 40 to 60 juveniles boarded a train at the Coliseum stop, robbed seven passengers and punched two. He responded that while it's scary, not every crime warrants a press release. But a member of the BART board of directors disagrees.
Huckaby asked, "What is the public utility in frightening yourself?"
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KATE LARSEN: "Because you might opt to not take BART because you don't feel it's safe for you or your family. That's up to the public to decide, not you or us the news organizations. It's just up to us to report the facts and let the public and our viewers decide what's best for them."
HUCKABY: Well, our police department made that determination and we have issued a robbery suppression detail. We have mandatory overtimes that are happening because of that and that was the decision that was made internally with our police department.
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"I think that the attack on April 22 should be shown, even if faces are blurred. There is one 19-year-old. These tactics need to be shown in some way to the public to warn riders," BART Board of Directors member Debora Allen said.
BART says they do report all their crime on a site called CrimeMapping.com, but BART riders ABC7 News spoke to on Monday did not know about the site or reporting system. Allen said she met with the BART police chief about that and the chief agrees that CrimeMapping needs a little bit more explanation and work before it's helpful to the public and everyone in terms of knowing when and where these crimes take place.
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BART discusses how, when it plans to share surveillance video of crimes