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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Police State and Prisons
The strictly financial arguments against the BART Police
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:
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.