BART has hired a mental health liaison to advise its police force, less than a year after officers fatally shot a transient man at the Civic Center station.
Armando Sandoval, a licensed professional, will counsel officers on how to handle tense situations with individuals who might have mental health issues. Sandoval will be on the front lines with officers as often as possible to help defuse potentially dangerous situations, said Lynette Sweet, a BART board member who chairs the police review
On July 3, 2011, BART officers shot and killed 45-year-old Charles Hill, a local transient who was drunk and holding knives. Sweet said the presence of Sandoval will help prevent such shootings in the future.
“Our main goal is to resolve these situations without anyone getting killed,” she said.
Sweet said Sandoval is already becoming acclimated to BART’s environs by accompanying officers on their daily beats.
By hiring Sandoval, BART fulfilled another recommendation for the police force that was made in a 2010 report by the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
The report was commissioned following the shooting death of Oscar Grant III by former BART Officer Johannes Mehserle on New Year’s Day 2009.