BART lays out new safety initiatives for customers and passengers 

click to enlarge BART’s front-line officers will be equipped with portable video recorders after a successful pilot program. - CINDY CHEW/2006 S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Cindy Chew/2006 s.f. examiner file photo
  • BART’s front-line officers will be equipped with portable video recorders after a successful pilot program.

Every BART police officer will be outfitted with a portable video camera, unruly passengers could face bans from district property and station agent booths might be redesigned as part of the transit agency’s new strategy for improving safety conditions for workers and customers.

The BART Police Department has increased its presence at stations and railways following the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings and the plot to attack an Amtrak train in Canada that was foiled this week. Along with responding to the current crises, officers are embarking on a series of new safety initiatives.

Police Chief Kenton Rainey, speaking before the agency’s board of directors Thursday, said that by next week, all of the force’s front-line officers would be outfitted with new mobile video recorders, allowing them to document their interactions.

“We’ve found these to be very effective tools,” Rainey said of the cameras, which have been used by some officers for more than a year. “People act a lot differently when they know they’re being recorded.”

Rainey said BART also will be able to issue emergency stay-away orders to violent individuals starting next month. State legislation passed in 2011 allows for BART to ban people from stations for 30 days to a year, depending on the offense.

For infractions such as urinating in public or defacing property, the offender must be cited three times in 90 days before facing possible action. Violent crimes like assault could result in immediate bans from BART facilities. Rainey is expected to provide more details about the new initiative at a news conference Monday.

The BART police chief also said the agency is exploring ways of changing the door designs on station booths to add protection for workers. The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents station agents, has long called for safer conditions for its members, who have been assaulted by ?passengers in the past.

The mention Thursday of a possible redesign of station booths was the first time Rainey and the agency publicly discussed potential changes to the structures. Rainey and BART General Manager Grace Crunican said that although there is no money in BART’s budget to pay for the changes, the agency will continue to study the idea.

BART’s board of directors and representatives from ATU Local 1555 implored the agency to take the matter seriously.

“This is not a problem that is unfamiliar with the district,” said  board director James Fang. “We need to do more than just study this issue.”

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Will Reisman

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