Thursday, August 02, 2007

Why I think there needs to be more BART police presence at Civic Center station?

I first wrote this in the comment section but decided to expand on it. BART police officers are probably very hard at work, and it's easy for the rest of us to complain their lack of presence since we don't exactly see everything they do. Even if that is true, several readers and I have mentioned multiple times that there are many things that BART police can do to help make BART a more pleasant experience. Someone asks me, "Like what?"

Thought I should cut and paste my response as a new entry. Of course, I'm speaking from my own experiences, and I just happen to go to the lovely Civic Center station daily.

I can think of different examples everyday on why we need BART police presence even for "minor"things but the one that pops out at me most is what happened to me today and many other times in the past. Right outside the Market/8th exit off Civic Center station, there are homeless people coming up to passengers exiting up the stairs or escalators, asking for money, for food, for cigarettes, or whatever. I don't mind solicitations, but it's when they are hostile that I feel unsafe. If you ignore them, they yell obscenities at you. If you say sorry, I don't have anything, they curse hell at you too. Occasionally, they spit at you. Once I've even had one point a plastic toy gun at my head closely (I wrote about this back in 2005).

I've written the BART comment site about this several times. I never saw a visible difference or noticed an increase in BART police presence around there.

A coworker and I once told a ticket agent that there's blood on the stairs and all she said was it happens all the time, what do you want me to do about it. I said, well, maybe it should be cleaned up, and I don't know, maybe someone's hurt? If anything, I was stunned by her attitude.

On my way home, I've seen a disheveled woman inviting men to 'check out' her g-string. I can go on with other examples but hopefully you get the point.

For anyone who will likely blame me and other passengers for these mishaps, please hold back your criticisms and really think about why there isn't more BART police presence at a known to be troublesome station like Civic Center/UN Plaza?

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Right outside the Market/8th exit off Civic Center station.....

Right outside? This is not BART; this is the City of San Francisco. Have you complained to San Francisco Police? If so, have you stayed to identify these people and are you willing to press charges? The police can't just arrest people because you wrote about something in your blog or sent BART an email.

I read you encounter with the plastic gun. This person committed a crime. Did you contact the police and have him arrested? If not, why didn't you? Do you think that writing a blog entry will cause this problem to go away?

People need to be aware that for minor crimes, (infractions and misdemeanors), the police can't arrest someone just because you made an anonymous complaint. If the crime was not committed in the officer's presence, you need to identify the criminal to the officer and make a citizen’s arrest.

The police can’t spend all day babysitting the BART exit, and they can’t do anything about people standing in a public place. These people act this way because they know that most people will do nothing about it. If you want something done about these people, you need to report criminal activity to the police when it happens and be willing to point out the criminals and follow through with a complaint.

You ask why there isn't more BART police presence at a known to be troublesome station like Civic Center/UN Plaza? Could be because they are busy arresting the drug dealers at various San Francisco and Oakland stations, the armed robbers and burglars at Coliseum, West Oakland, Richmond, Pittsburg, and other stations, or the car thieves throughout the BART system. Let’s not forget all the fare cheats that they stop, many of whom have outstanding arrest warrants for much more serious crimes.

As far as Civic Center Station is concerned, BART can only deal with the crime that occurs in its station. If San Francisco refuses to clean up the area around Civic Center, then I don’t think that there is much that BART can do about it.

bartmusings said...

what if right outside means the right on the BART escalators????? Or at the tip of the staircase? Is that then considered BART property? Because that is where I am talking about!! will you take responsibility for that??? And yes, i have complained to someone about it and it lead to no where.

don't point fingers here. why is it so hard for people to accept criticisms and make room for improvement???

did i ever say that i am asking the police to make arrests based on a blog???

i want presence, i was them to give warning. I never said i wanted my blog or complaints to lead to arrests!

whoever you are, if you are a BART employee, i would love to meet you in person somewhere to talk more about this.

STOP POINTING FINGERS! WHY DON'T YOU LISTEN TO COMPLAINTS FOR ONCE! WHY DON'T YOU TELL THE AGENT THAT SHOO'D ME AWAY TO AT LEAST MAKE AN EFFORT TO CALL BART POLICE?

If you read my entry carefully, you would have noticed that yes, I did recognize that BART police is out there doing other things.

Anonymous said...

this is just the attitude you get from bart employees whenever a complaint is made. that is why bart will never improve.

Anonymous said...

ACME Security = BART Police = Rent A Cops... i love how the first commentor tries to shift the blame around... passing the buck. instead of trying to address the issue, this employee of bart decides to shift blame and split hairs about details. the bottom line is that if people don't feel safe riding part, then the bart police, agents, and everyone else have not done their job. you bart employees just don't get it do you!?!?

Anonymous said...

Boy, those BART folks sure are sensitive... Any hint of an attack on their worth or value and they fly off the handle. Sounds to me like they are trying to justify their own importance more to themselves than to the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

WoW. I don't know what to say anymore. If BART thinks its more worthwhile to attack an online community than to do something about real problems from real readers, I think it shows how little they value us. We don't know if this is a BART employee but it sure sounds like someone who works for BART. I hope this person realizes what he has donew.

bartmusings said...

thanks for commenting. i'm glad some of you agree with me on this. i was quite angry at first with the response that person left me, as you can see by reading my unedited, typo-filled comment back, but now, i feel like this exposes something. is this how all of our complaints are received? i'm not, and we're not, hiding behind a blog or bart online contact forms. most of us, at some point, have voiced our opinions live and continue to do so. i write because i like chronicling the good, the norm, and the ugly. i like hearing from people too. i learn from comments people leave, including bart employees. this one was different. if i am on an escalator up to the street level, should i be thinking to myself oh, is this BART or SF jurisdiction? or, wait, this guy i s harassing me as i'm walking up the stairs to street level but now i am on street level so wait, i should go find SFPD instead of going back down to report to BART police.

it's really a shame that it has come to this.

for the record, when i was verbally harassed by a homeless man by the Washington Mutual ATM, i did ask SFPD to please escort him away. don't worry, BART, i know that is not your jurisdiction.

Anonymous said...

You want them to give a warning?

I don't have to take responsibility for anything because I don't work there. I am not "passing the buck". I was just pointing out that you wan't something done, but you refuse to do your part. I noticed you failed to answer my questions about what you did when the guy pointed the gun at you. You failed to say if you called the police and stood by to make a report.

I am just telling you the way it is. The police can't go "warning" people just because someone walks up and tells someone that someone else did something and then walks away. It has nothing to do with cops or employee's being lazy, it is the law. If you want something done then you need to ask for the police to respond, tell them what happened and point the person out.
If you do that and then the police still refuse to do anything, then you have a complaint.

I just love the way people jump to the conclusion that if someone defends BART that they must work there. Heaven forbid that someone who knows how the law works disagrees with someones perception or feelings about how they think the law should work.

For Mr. ACME Security = BART Police = Rent A Cops, your ignorance is showing. Anyone can look in the California Penal Code and see who are Police Officers and what there powers are. AS far as "feeling safe", no one can control how you feel. I prefer to deal in reality.

Once again people, if you want something done...
Call the police.
Wait for the police.
Tell the police what happened.
Point out the person.
Follow through with a criminal complaint.

It is that simple.

bartmusings said...

"it's that simple." if i want to report an incident, call the police, wait for the police, report to the police, follow-through with a criminal complaint. yeah, we'll be sure to do that when we get hurt next time. that'll do a whole lot of good. what about doing something to try to keep the area safer? proactive versus reactive?

for your information, that plastic gun incident was one of MANY incidents. that was one of the first i shared on this blog and no, i didn't report it, but i've received emails since then that i should and i have reported verbal harassment situations many times since then to BART police and employees.

result? took reports but same situation happens week after week. it's that simple i guess to say the citizens aren't doing enough to report these things, but when we do, it gets documented but we see no change?

i guess what you're saying is that the job of police force has become completely reactive.

that's wonderful.

Anonymous said...

In regards to anonymous poster 1, it's frankly a sad reality that you bring up that which reflects American society today. The constant "it's not my job, it's someone elses", why doesn't the victim or citizen take charge mumbo jumbo that has led to the deterioration of the American society and ineffective government that exists today. Yet, such employees (not saying that you are an employee) and often unions for that matter, are constantly advocating and demanding better wages/benefits for sub-adequate performance leading to the acceptance of status quo as stellar performance. As a result, no advancements can be made as fares and tax payer dollars are funding mediocrity.

Metro experiences in other countries in Europe and Asia are far more pleasant than any that I have experienced here in the states, where service employees take a little bit more pride and effort in their responsibilities. I guess that is why public transportation is exponentially more efficient and successful in those environments vs. the US (at least one of the factors).

It's really a shame how BART chooses to it's operation or perhaps, maybe it's just the employees that hire lack social and professional responsibility and courtesy to THEIR customers. Can you imagine that same business practice in a commercial organization? That operation would be out of business in no time!

Anonymous said...

news flash: crimes in and around the bart station is the fault of muni and bart passengers. bart police will only do something if you report and follow-through. if you are stabbed, stick around to tell the story to authorities and maybe they will do something about it. otherwise, don't expect bart, muni, or the city to give a damn about your well-being.

bartmusings said...

To the most recent anonymous posted talking about europe and asia. I completely agree. There is no sense (or little sense) of civic duty left in this state. I don't want to speak for other states. Our anonymous legal expert here is probably going to say that the laws are different here in CA, in the U.S., than in other states and countries..etc.

ALL THAT ASIDE, let's just talk plain observations. Why is it that Italians and Spanish law enforcement around their train stations proactively try to help passengers find their way, and try to ask the "Gypsies" to leave the stations and stop soliciting, when here, as in here in CC BART station, we can't even mention on a blog, or hope, that there can be more BART police presence?

Anonymous said...

Did you point these people out to the police? Did you tell the police that you wanted to press charges against these people?

If not, there is nothing the police can do. In the situation you describe, it sounds like these people are not stupid enough to do something when the police are there and the police can't stay there all day waiting. Most people are ignorant of how the law works and are quick to assume that it’s "those lazy cops". The point that I am trying to make is that the cops have to follow the law. I am sorry that the law does not work the way some of you want it to but that is the way it is. I deal in reality, and the reality of the situation is that if you don't do your part as a citizen, then it makes it harder for the police to do their job. You can bitch all you want about lazy cops and employees, and write all the letters and blogs you want, but this will not change anything. If you want the police to do something, give them the tools they need to legally do it.
Then again you can just ignore this advice and let this situation continue and keep complaining about it. The choice is yours. Don't be a victim.

bartmusings said...

I pointed the individuals to the police but did not press charges-- that question was never asked because I don't know if any of the officers I spoke with felt that my complaints were serious enough.

And other times, the complaints took place after the individuals have left the scene. That's not the police's fault but nor is that mine!

You're jumping to your own conclusions about me complaining that BART police or SFPD is lazy. I have not said that.

Separately, if I were to tell them myself, without them asking, that I'd like to press charges, while the offender is looking right at me, I think that I probably would not live to write this blog because what happens when they are released and sees me again? BART police nor SFPD will be there to help me since I need to file a report first if I want anything done.

Anyway, I think our debate has turned uglier than this entry intended. While you might be right about the way the legal systems works, it doesn't change the fact that most BART passengers do feel that there should be more BART police presence. And the last time I checked, we were legally allowed to express our opinions.

bartmusings said...

Oh, last thing, thanks to everyone who commented on this so far. Opposing point of views are always good. Although after all that I feel disappointed, hopeless, yet clearer about the blunt reality of our system's reactive nature.
Anyway, I better focus back on my work for now.

Anonymous said...

I didn't say that you said that the cops were lazy, but that seems to be the opinion of some of the posters. I agree that there needs to be more BART Police and for that matter, more Police everywhere. However if you keep up with the news, it seems that there is a shortage of cops everywhere and no police department has the manpower to post a cop on a corner to wait and see if a crime is going to happen.

Yes, everyone is entitled to express there opinion, but opinion is not always fact. Just as some of these posters expressed their opinion, people are free to counter it. If some people are upset by the truth, so be it. I could care less. As I said before,I don't work for BART and I could care less if people "feel" unsafe and stop riding it. The fewer people that ride means that the odds of me getting a seat increases.

For the "why doesn't the victim or citizen take charge mumbo jumbo that has led to the deterioration of the American society and ineffective government that exists today." poster. Society has deteriorated today because we have become a society of victims that expect the government to do everything for us. We the citizens have a duty to take charge of the situation because we are the government. These problems exist because the citizens allow it to exist.

You want to feel safe at BART? Go to the Board Meetings, demand that BART hire enough police officers to have officers at every station. Go to your city council meetings and demand that your city add more officers in the areas that are next to BART Stations.
If that makes you feel safe, go for it.

bartmusings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bartmusings said...

BART Board Meeting? I plan to.

Oh, and we're not talking about EVERY BART station here...just one.

We allow it to exist or we are confined by a structure where it is hard for those of us who don't want it to exist to do anything about it?

If it were up to me, I actually want the US to be like Singapore where there are cameras monitoring crimes at every corner, and where you get fined for littering or spitting!

I myself live in a very safe city where my city council members actually individually address concerns and where the police officers are very visible. Of course, it's a small city, not the city of SF where there are much bigger issues to address and much more politics that get in the way.

And out of curiosity, why do you even read this blog (I mean, I'm glad you do)? So you can pick on everyone who wants to complain about BART? There will always be complaints. People need a forum to voice their complaints. And some of us will represent the entire group to do something about the complaints. And that itself is action and a step forward!

Anonymous said...

I read the blog because I ride BART, and if pointing out the truth is "picking on people", so be it. There are plenty of valid points on this forum and BART has it's fare share of bad employees. I found it interesting that some posters, knowing nothing about what is allowed by law, jump to the conclusion that the problem is lazy employees and that my posts were BART attacking this online community. It seems that no one considered that maybe what I was posting was true, that the police can't just stop people because someone complained about something. I think that on this occasion, some peoples expectations on what they think the police can do and the reality of what they can do are two different things.

Anonymous said...

Is it really too much to ask of BART PD to be more pro-active in their response to crime and crime prevention?

BART Police is always quick to say, "understaffed, what did you do? Did you make a report?" Heard it all before. My problem and the problem with many of us who ride BART, is the lack of a BART Police Presence. (I will say, you cann't bitch if you did make a report. If you fail to make a report, that is on you)

Here is a good example CIVIC Center is a known problem area, so why, is there no proactive measure being taken?

The argument, oh where down at such and such a station doing a drug bust, falls flat to me, as BART PD does not post a crime log or readily publish this information. How about posting this information on the BART web site. I would love to know, how many cites are giving, how many drug bust there are, how about all those stolen bikes? I believe the real fear is, the public will discover how little BART PD does.

On all these Board BART PD likes, to make claims of, "You just don't know what we do? You need to do a ride along to understand." If we as the public do not understand, instead of offering up the same old lame stock line, why not tell us what you do all day?

There are a handful of stations that seriously require a steady police presence and yet BART PD is incapable of doing this!

The real problem is most of BART PD seems to ROAD: Retired On Active Duty.

Anonymous said...

Yes, BART should publish the crime stats. People should be able to see what the BART Police are doing.
As for Mr. ROAD, thanks for proving my point. I guess it's those lazy cops.

bartmusings said...

People jump to conclusions for a reason especially when it comes to service. Many people expect poor service on BART because they had at some point (or more often than not) received poor service from BART employees. People guess that you are an employee of BART because it's happened before...meaning, posters have been criticized by BART employees.

There are many ways of bringing about change. Things like your first couple of comments will no doubt shut people down from even taking the first step, which is to openly voice an opinion.

You also jumped to conclusions yourself in your first couple of responses. In fact, you fired away quite a few accusations at me.

While I will continue to take action, I am also on a mission to show that what has been marked as the 'truth' will not, and SHOULD NOT, be the one and only way to bring about change.

Anonymous said...

geez do you have a loved one that works for the police or something? they ought to pay you for spending so much time defending their image so fervently. if you are not part of BART, SFPD, or some type of public employee, you could have fooled me the way you take these comments so literally.

Anonymous said...

I have something to say about BART Police:

1) In my 10 years of riding BART I have only seen BART Police 5 times (twice on the trains during the week after 9-11).

2) I have NEVER seen them do foot or car patrols in BART parking lots.

3) Why is there no video surveillance in the BART Parking Lots? seems like this is prime pickings for car and catalytic converter thieves!

4) Why does BART NOT PUBLISH their crime statistics or crime maps? If they did, then passengers could be made aware of what types of crimes occur around which stations and take appropriate precautions.

5) If BART Police claim to be so short-staffed, then why not make mutual aid/automatic aid agreements with neighboring police jurisdictions?

6) The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) uses Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office Deputies to enforce the law on their transit system. But, these sheriff deputies are few and far between, so instead the VTA uses unarmed VTA employed Protective Service Officers to supplement the Sheriff Patrols. This two-tier system seems to work well. I always see them when I ride VTA, unlike BART Police.

Anonymous said...

VTA vs BART

I ride the VTA Light Rail and BART. I have been doing this for almost a decade. The best thing about VTA Light Rail is:

1) Unlike the BART Train Cars, the VTA Light Rail Cars do not stink and are kept very clean!

2) In almost every ride on the VTA Light Rail you will see either SCC Sheriff's Officer or a VTA Protective Services Officer either on the train or the platform!

3) The VTA Light Rail Trains do not make that "ear-splitting" squeaking noise you get on BART trains!

kudos to VTA!

Anonymous said...

It light of the fact many Transit agencies manage to be better at taking proactive measure, I am not sure how BART PD can make the claims it makes? The first sign of a incompetance, is when a list of excuses is given for poor performance.

Anonymous said...

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

bartmusings said...

I'm assuming this quote is meant to add to your 'truth' that to it's our fault for doing 'nothing'? This quote can also very well be directed at BART police or any police for that matter...while yes, we have responsibilities to report incidents, they also can take the initiative to take a few extra glances around the station and not pretend bad things don't happen just because WE the citizens HAVE NOT reported them.

Example-- BART police stares at a homeless man drinking alcohol by an inside BART escalator but does nothing. Why? Is he waiting for someone like me to point out to him the obvious, something he himself saw already with his own eyes?

I've reported enough incidents. Should I report something that he saw even before I did?

Evil triumphs for many reasons.

Anonymous said...

Almost all of my experiences with Civic Center Station Agents has been bad. The one exception was when there was a fire in the tunnel and a young black female agent worked her butt off helping everyone.

Any blood on the escalators or in the entrance to the escalators is BART responsibility to maintain. Outside of that belongs to SF. That the agent failed to do anything is typical at that station. I reported a near fist fight on the platform and when I called the agent, he said okay and hung up. No announcement, no request for a description, location on the platform, nothing. It was evident that he didn't care.

Anonymous said...

BART is charging their riders good money and we all have to pay a special tax to support their operation. It seems that they should be a lot more reponsive to suggestions and complaints. In problematic or all stations, inside and outside in the staion's immediate area, cameras can be installed to detect unusual activities, BART police can then deal with them. If being reactive is all they want to be, at least, they should react faster to make a difference. If they think 10 feet away from the station is not their business then they can help out by calling the local police to the scene.
I myself have never seen any BART police patrolling the parking lots or the trains. I have seen them driving around elsewhere though.

Sugah Shaft said...

After reading the blog and the comments, I find it hard to believe that the first person who commented completely missed the obvious main point. I'm not sure how a plea for some active deterence becomes "citizens need to do more on their own by contacting police, filing charges, etc, and (towards the end) taking matters into their own hands. Kind of an extreme reaction.

A request for more BART police prescence is fair. While I can understand SFPD, Oakland PD, and Richmond PD might be a bit too busy to patrol BART jurisdictions, I don't see why BART police can't. And by the way, is Bart police real police? I've always wondered. If I throw a rock at them, can they shoot me? Anwyays I'm curious becasue I ususally see them parked near the El Cerrito Bart Station drinking slurpies and staring at the high school girls that walk down from the school. Most cops (in urban areas)after all grew up criminally minded (punks basically)and then upon hs graduation, thought oh sh*t what am I going to do to avoid jail and how can I continue to legally f*ck with people. I know, I'll go into law enforcement. Nice.

Anyways I digress. So according to the first responder, if hypotheticaly speaking people were getting their home broken into around my neighborhood, I should NOT expect the police to increase patrols in my neighborhood. There's a great way to not prevent crime. Instead, I am expected to try and catch the license plates of the white van roaming the neigborhood, take down the license plate, file a police report, and then press charges. Only then will the police do anything. Sorry but that's the stupidest thing I ever heard. Any police force would increase partols in an especialyly crime ridden area..err East Oakland..Iron Triangle. So crime ridden Bart stations should be no exception for the BART police.

Why this request seems extreme to the first repsonder - who knows. Is funding really the issue? Is Bart police understaffed? Maybe they should have allocated more money to the BART police rather than give the Bart operators a raise few years ago. Sorry but like baseball player salaries, this job is such a scam. You get to sit on your ass the entire day and only have to stick your head out the window once in awhile like a gopher checking for golf balls. But back to BART police - they should have an increased presence at certain stations, and there's no excuse to not do so. If money really were the issue, just go to Home Depot, pick up a couple guys, give them a uniform and a fake badge, and something that looks like a taser, and have them stand at a Bart station all day. I be that would work to deter some crime, and that's really all Bart musings is asking for.

Anonymous said...

This is old, but why not? To Mr. Anonymous I-Deal-In-Reality and I-Know-the-Law guy:

I can totally imagine why you don't like the bloggers complaining tone, and I really want to jump in and say some similar things - the first of which was that holding a gun to someone's head, fake or not, is not just illegal. It's a felony. It's prison time. That's different than aggressive pan handling, spitting, verbal harassment, taking up two seats or fare evasion. But jesus christ, as others must have pointed out (i couldn't choke any more of this thread down), she isn't asking for arrests based on her blog or any other secondhand report. She's asking for PRESENCE. She's asking for the number of minutes per day that a police officer is near that escalator to increase. Even a few minutes here and there at certain times would help. That's all. Also, as you no doubt know, a BART police officer's is perfectly within his jurisdiction enforcing the law off of BART property (read NEAR, not ON) when it involves protecting bart passengers and/or employees leaving or entering the system.

Anonymous said...

they don't need more police. but police who actually DO THEIR JOBS AND ARE REALLY REALLY IN THE STATIONS AND TRAINS. instead of standing around outside the station yukking it up with each other.

Anonymous said...

ssems to me whenever i go i see enough bart presence. like once when i was a kid i there was a sign right behind this homeless guy and i was reading the sign and the homelss dude started yelling at me and cursing at me. i was liekw hat i do because i was like 7 at the time and was like o crap. then 2 police officers wallked over and gave a loud talk to the guy and he didnt do anything else. they dont have alot of police there and i think they are doing as good as a job they can do

A BART SUPPORTER said...

ssems to me whenever i go i see enough bart presence. like once when i was a kid i there was a sign right behind this homeless guy and i was reading the sign and the homelss dude started yelling at me and cursing at me. i was liekw hat i do because i was like 7 at the time and was like o crap. then 2 police officers wallked over and gave a loud talk to the guy and he didnt do anything else. they dont have alot of police there and i think they are doing as good as a job they can do

Anonymous said...

ssems to me whenever i go i see enough bart presence. like once when i was a kid i there was a sign right behind this homeless guy and i was reading the sign and the homelss dude started yelling at me and cursing at me. i was liekw hat i do because i was like 7 at the time and was like o crap. then 2 police officers wallked over and gave a loud talk to the guy and he didnt do anything else. they dont have alot of police there and i think they are doing as good as a job they can do

Anonymous said...

ssems to me whenever i go i see enough bart presence. like once when i was a kid i there was a sign right behind this homeless guy and i was reading the sign and the homelss dude started yelling at me and cursing at me. i was liekw hat i do because i was like 7 at the time and was like o crap. then 2 police officers wallked over and gave a loud talk to the guy and he didnt do anything else. they dont have alot of police there and i think they are doing as good as a job they can do

Anonymous said...

After reading all these comments about BART safety and BART police, while there are many valid points to the safety and quality of service issues, I really must question the validity of the police issues...

Have anyone here actually know of someone on the BART police force or police force in the presence of BART jurisdiction? Has anyone that commented that BART PDs are 'ACME Rent-A-Cop'...even worse: "scams"...have read the requirements of being a BART police? And finally have any of these commentators have actual knowledge of the legal authority of a BART Police Officer...or known as a Peace Officer under the California Law? I'm just curious because the same commentators that have been so generalizing and accusatory of others seems to be ignorant themselves...