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The strictly financial arguments against the BART Police

by No Justice No BART
One common reason that police forces get disbanded in the US is because the folks paying the bills realize that they are expensive and redundant.  If anything is true about the BART police, its that their "services" are redundant, unnecessary, and not worth the money.
We thought it would be an interesting ongoing project to guage the true costs of BART's disastrous experiment in policing.  We are compiling this info because one of the inevitable questions that gets asked by the media as a protest campaign continues is "What are these protest costing us?".  Recent articles quote the President of BART's Board of Directors Bob Franklin as placing the costs of our "protests" at $300,000.
We think that this 300K number is probably a lie.  If we were journalists interviewing anyone from BART about their police we would ask for documentation.  One reason to be skeptical: in response to protests having to do with Oscar Grant alone, BART spent 1.4 million to "keep the peace at protests after the incident".

But an accurate assessment of costs to BART must begin by asking the right question.  The real question is this: since BART Police murdered Oscar Grant what has it cost BART to proceed with this failed experiment of a police department?  When the aggregate costs are considered, we think it will be clear that that it is in fact cheaper to disband the BART Police department than to keep it operating.

With that in mind, here are some hints for reporters to dig a bit deeper with BART, so they can actually get an accurate idea of how much operating the BART police department and fighting the fallout from their irresponsible behavior actually costs BART. Cost of police and staff overtime to handle protests is one small part of the equation.  Demian Bulwa of the Chronicle did this right a year ago, in an article entitled BART's price tag for Grant shooting: $6 million.

A fair assessment of costs has to include:
  • Civil lawsuit settlements.  Bart settled with Oscar Grant's family for ~2.8 million.  There are still outstanding lawsuits, from the Oscar Grant shooting and other BART police malfeasance.
  • Severance packages for administrators who are asked to leave.  Dugger got 1 million.  Police Chief Gee got a golden parachute.  This is an example of how crappy BART's accountability practices are.  They don't really fire people, they reward them with early retirement and free $.
  • Cost for investigations and contracting to outside agencies to tell BART what is wrong with their police department so that they can put the report on the shelf and ignore its recommendation. The Meyers Nave investigation cost $283,000 and the Noble Report cost $128,000 in the wake of the Oscar Grant shooting.  This could be filed under "PR Bullshit", but its a big expense. 
  • Pay for officers who are "on leave", like Tony Pirone and Marisol Domenici and their buddies, who took home incredible amounts of money ($1 million between the six of em) while they weren't working and weren't fired.  All these officers were reinstated, actually, and they have made a ton of money while on vacation as a result of their participation in the murder of Oscar Grant.  
  • Cost of firing corrupt cops.  Did you know it isn't free? Actually, its an incredible tale of failure of accountability.  The quarter million $ Meyers Nave Report recommended Pirone and Domenici be fired for their actions related to Oscar Grant.  BART finally fired them many, many months later (after large protests from the public), in a process that itself cost 75,000.  Then to add insult to injury to stupidity BART went and rehired these two criminals so now they are back on the payroll with back pay.  So add in the costs of rehiring corrupt cops.
  • Costs of fighting various legal battles.  
  • Ridership and money lost due to service disruption. This has been minor thus far.
  • The cost of running their pathetic farce of a police review board ($500,000 just to set it up) to cheerlead BART and divert attention from the real issues.   Note that they set up the exact opposite model of that people who came to their community meetings asked for.
  • Cost of community meetings held by BART, and expenditures by the BART leadership to buy off certain community groups, and basically run advertising campaigns to bolster their image (these are smaller expenses, because certain people sell out real cheap).
  • Potentially, fines which will be levied by the FCC.  Hopefully.  To keep BART from establishing policies they have no business having that violate the constitution and law.
The above listed costs, you will notice, have almost nothing to do with "boots on the ground" tactical or police operations in response to protests, which is undoubtedly the lowball figure Bob Franklin referred to in his interview with the Bay Citizen.  Most of the costs listed above DWARF the overtime and other costs for policing protests, and are incurred with no help from protesters.  The real costs are incurred because BART's leadership is abjectly pathetic at their jobs, and is incapable of holding people accountable or making tough decisions (a.k.a "doing the right thing"). 

There is a lovely parallel here, given the recent media focus on "inconvenienced" commuters. BART administrators love to complain about how much $ protesters are costing, just like they love to complain about how much disruption protesters are causing.  The real story there is that BART's decisions have caused MOST of the disruption to transit service, just as their incompetence is costing them many, many times more than any protest could ever cost them.  If $300,000 sounds expensive, try $5-10 million?  Just do the math - its simple addition.  No protester forced the BART Board to give Dorothy Dugger a million dollars.  No protester forced them to keep racist, brutal cops like Prione and Domenici on the payroll. 

We think we have made our point and you get the idea.  


One final sidenote for people like BART Director Tom Radulovich, who keeps asking the public for a second, third, fourth, chance, to please please pretty please let BART try, one more time, to "improve" the BART Police.  Lets pretend you can do better.  Even if pigs begin to fly, and BART somehow manages to clean up the murderous, corrupt, brutal, and inept cesspool that is the BART Police, so that somehow all the costs related to police murder and brutality and other fuckups would no longer have to be factored in, it would still not be cost efficient for the state to have BART running its own separate police force (at a price tag of 57 million a year).  In addition to paying for their "police officers", BART also maintains an infrastructure which includes support personnel, equipment, and insurance for the police (this is a big one).  This is all redundant, in that existing local departments in every single BART service area already pay for all this stuff once over.
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Fri, Sep 9, 2011 5:35PM
Thu, Sep 8, 2011 5:37PM
perspective, Bob
Thu, Sep 8, 2011 1:22AM
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