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BART Public Hearing on Flawed Draft Police Oversight Plan, 7/30/09: audio

by dave id
This audio was taken from BART's video of the meeting posted here. Public comment begins at about 45 minutes into the recording. To read the actual oversight proposal and about how it came to be, see this.
Listen now:
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(audio 1:41:05)

previous related post:
BART Going Forward with Seriously Flawed Police Oversight Plan Created Behind Closed Doors

previous related Indybay feature:
No Justice No BART Takes the Truth to the Trains
NJNB Informs Public About Officer Pirone's Racism and Chief Gee's Defense of BART Officers
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by Tom Ammiano
BART police need civilian oversight
Tom Ammiano
Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Amid the drama of the state budget, the BART union negotiations and the threat of a possible BART strike, it can be easy to forget that it has now been more than six months since the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant on New Year's Day by a BART police officer. The tragic shooting set off a series of community demonstrations that were only further enflamed by BART's inept initial response to the event, calling into question BART's internal policies. The death of Grant was an acknowledgment that BART police need independent, civilian oversight as exists for other law enforcement agencies in the Bay Area.

In mid-January, I, along with Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, introduced legislation to create a civilian oversight body for the BART police force based on San Francisco's Office of Citizen Complaints. I agreed to hold the bill to provide BART the opportunity to develop a specific time line to implement civilian oversight.

Since then, BART has held committee meetings and come up with a draft of civilian oversight to handle complaints about its police force. The document is scheduled to be presented to the BART Board of Directors on Thursday. As part of that process, two community forums were held where the public demanded strong, independent oversight similar to what San Francisco has instead of the plan BART is proposing. Members of the public rightfully questioned how, after everything that has happened, BART could suggest a civilian oversight model where officer discipline would still be under the control of BART's general manager and the police chief.

How officer discipline is handled is at the heart of the debate regarding civilian review. Will BART create an independent oversight body that includes a strong civilian board with power or does BART intend to stay with the status quo?

Sadly, BART is proposing a watered-down shell of civilian oversight that is far less than what the community deserves and has asked for. The plan allows for BART's two police associations to appoint a member of the civilian board charged with overseeing their own officers, a situation not found in any other police oversight body in the state. In addition, the plan requires a two-thirds vote of both the Civilian Review Board and the BART Board of Directors for appealing discipline decisions by the chief of police and general manager, essentially eliminating independent review.

BART fails to understand that its reluctance to reform simply further diminishes the public's already poor perception of the agency and shows an unwillingness to make change in even the most obvious and tragic of situations. BART must salvage its remaining integrity by supporting strong civilian oversight.

No one can undo what happened on New Year's Day, but it is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that it never happens again.

This article has been corrected since it appeared in print editions.
by Joel Keller
BART working toward better police oversight
Joel Keller
Thursday, July 30, 2009

In response to Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, ("BART police need civilian oversight," July 29), I would like to present the facts of BART's efforts to establish meaningful citizen police oversight. A BART subcommittee has drafted a plan that we believe will be responsive to the diverse community BART serves. It would:

-- Create the position of independent police auditor, to be appointed by and report directly to the board of directors.

-- Create a citizen board appointed by the board of directors.

-- Authorize the independent police auditor to investigate complaints filed against BART officers and recommend discipline.

-- Authorize the citizen board to recommend discipline.

-- Allow the citizen board to appeal a disciplinary recommendation made by the auditor to the board of directors.

BART is following through with its commitment to implement citizen oversight this year. To do it, BART will need support in the Legislature to amend the BART Act to give the agency new authority. The BART Board of Directors is committed to implementing effective citizen oversight of its police department.

Joel Keller is a BART director.
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