Good or Bad experiences with BART Police

Discuss. True stories only, please.

I only recently realized BART was all capitalized and they had their own Police department. While in college I rode BART and had only one experience. My car was broken into and I thought it was a Fremont Police officer who took the report. I was wrong. Not the greatest story, but it's a start.

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About a year ago there was a questionable individual in the Lafayette parking lot checking car doors. It was fairly obvious that this person was hoping to get lucky with an unlocked door. I notifed a BART employee, who then called the police. I was told that I would have to wait for the BART police to show up in order for anything to be done. Apparently it was not sufficient that I give a detailed description over the phone. This was my morning commute, I was on my way to work, but I waited and I waited. Half hour to 45 minutes later the police showed. I understand that it was not an emergency situation, but if you want people to report incidents like this and keep BART safe I believe there needs to be more consideration for riders time. They could have taken my description and phone number. By the time the police arrived the man in questions was on his way, no where to be found and I was late to work.

That isn't BART Police policy. It's the law. You can give them a description, but unless you are there to actually verify that the person they made contact with is actually the person you saw, the police are powerless to do anything about it. That rule exists to protect you from being wrongfully detained by the police, because someone gave a description of a suspect, who happened to look like you, and then didn't stick around to verify it.

It is good that you called it in, and you should have. Even had you left, the police would have known that there was someone actively searching the lot that day, for a car to break into. And the officer assigned to that beat could have spent more time at that station that day, to hopefully scare the guy from returning.

Besides, unless the guy actully entered one of the vehicles, I'm not so sure the police could have really done much, other than ask the guy to leave BART property. Once again, that isn't the cop's decision. It's the laws created by your elected officials.

A suspicious person can be detained upon reasonable suspicion that the activity that was observed was suspicious in nature. Officers may not make arrests based on reasonable suspicion, but they can detain individuals and complete a field interview of the suspicious person, obtaining their name, date of birth, address and other identifying information.

Based on experience, most officers, and patrons, know that BART parking lots are often a choice for thieves looking for cars or property to steal. With this in mind, it can be shown that someone who roams the lots without any purpose of direction, looking into vehicles or trying door handles, is obviously not parking their vehicle or looking for their own. Officers can use this information to base their resasonble suspicion and ultimately detain the subject for suspicious activity.

By identifying the person and running a records check, this could identify warrants, search clauses, or prior criminal activity that could heighten the level of suspicion and turn it to an arrest. For example, the subject could have an outstanding warrant for burglary and upon a search incident to arrest, the officer could find burglary tools, and in turn charge the subject with possession of burglary tools.

I was sitting on Bart drinking a big cup of coffee in flagrant violation of Bart guidelines when a Bart police officer walked through the train. I was a bit nervous because I think that technically they can fine you. As it turns out, he couldn't have given two shits. It gave me a warm fuzzy to see this kind of discretion in action. I mean, I'm a paying customer that looks presentable on the way to work.

This has actually happened to me several times since I drink coffee pretty much every day, but I was only nervous the first time so I won't comment on the others.

They usually enforce the eating and drinking laws if the drinks are uncovered or messy food/people. Or if they need a reason for contact. Heck some stations have coffee shops right inside.

A lot of times if you see an officer, he is on his way somewhere to something that was reported to him/her.

I had this experience a few years ago but just found this forum so feel compelled to relate it.

I was on bart from the Daly City station to Fremont on nearly the last train of the evening. (11:30ish)
My day started very early (9:00 am) due to finals at S.F. State and ended late. (I am a sign language interpreter at the university)
I hadn't eaten for hours and picked up a burrito at the College to bring home with me for a late dinner.
By the time I got to the coliseum station I was too hungry to wait til home. so I unwrapped the top of my burrito and nibbled away as I read my book.
When the train pulled into the Bayfair station there was a commotion at the door of the train. I remembered when I transfered at the Lake Merrit Station that a woman was spread out on the seat near the door, feet in the aisle, probably a homeless woman catching a nap.
So when I heard the commotion I paid little attention, I was tired and really didnt care about any drama that was unfolding so kept reading and munching away.
Finally, I looked up to see what was the big deal. Turns out there was a cop standing in the doorway yelling, at me.
I was shocked at first because he was really yelling, screaming actually. I couldnt even figure out what he was saying until he started demanding that I get off the train. I was pointing to myself saying, "me?" He replys, "yes you!", I replied that this was the last train to Fremont and what have I done to be kicked off the car and please dont make me get off.
He kept yelling and started to call the train operator to not proceed. I gathered my things and got up and started walking off the train. As I met him at the door, he kept yelling at me and finally I yelled back telling him to stop yelling at me, I'm getting off the train.
I stood on the platform while he talked into his walkie talkie. He then started yelling at me again. I again yelled back that it is not necessary to be yelling at me, I'm off the train and could you please tell me what the problem is. (since at this point he has not given me any indication why he is pulling me off the train.) In my response, he then grabs me and physically throws me up against a trash can and restrains me against it.
Yelling at me to calm down. Now, you must know, I was calm. I am a 5'5" woman, 115 lbs, 39 yrs old and was not imposing or threatening in any way. He was at least 6' and 160 lbs. (I did yell back at him but only after he continued yelling at me even when I had spoke to him calmly)
As I'm restrained on the can, I am speaking in a moderate but agitated tone telling him that I am calm and he has no right to treat me this way. His cohort arrives and starts to get in on the restraint but soon realizes that I am not threatening and backs off. The original cop backs off at that time too and I am let up.
He then tells me I am being ticketed for eating on bart, or as he put it, for eating a full meal. (it was a wrapped burrito with a few bites missing)
By now I am completely traumatized. I put down my bag and pull out my water since I have remnants of a burrito in my now entirely dry mouth. He tells me if I take a drink of water he will write me a ticket for that as well. I find that my dry burrito choked mouth is in dire need and he is not in his right mind and I drink anyway.
I receive two tickets that night. (yes, one for eating and one for drinking)
And walked away with a shattered image of police protection.
I looked very forward to my day in court. In fact, I had written my account as I arrived home and sent it to every bart head honcho I could find. I had some responses but from what I can tell, nothing came of it. My day in court was a let down as well. He never showed and my tickets were dismissed. Happy they were dismissed but I really looked forward to exposing his abusive behavior in front of a judge.
I can admit my wrong in eating on bart, it's something I had never done prior, always preferring my meals in a more formal setting, but I was really feeling poorly having not eaten in hours. And perhaps I should have looked up the second I heard the commotion but I put that off to city living. I'm just not a rubber necker anymore.
But nothing can excuse his abusive behavior. I have never encountered such aggressiveness in my life. I no longer have the illusion that cops are our protectors but see them now in a more jaded light. Thanks to Officer Dixon.

Shrapnel's picture

I thought this was already answered in the other forum?

ekliptikz's picture

I had a medical "episode" (heart troubles) while riding on BART in the evening a couple months ago. Well long story short I get off the train to find somewhere to sit, and manage to flag down a station agent before I collapsed (never got her name unfortunately). She rushed and grabbed me a chair, then let me know she was calling the BART police. I was like 1 inch away from passing out so I didn't really understand anything she said, but I got the idea when the paramedics (fire dept) showed. Anyways, they got me all situated until the EMTs came with the stretcher.

I'm finally in the ambulance like 10 or so minutes later, just finished giving the EMT my personal info (IDs, insurance, etc), and now we're ready to roll out to the hospital. But oh wait, the BART police officer finally shows up. He strolls up to the back of the ambulance and asks me to fork over all the stuff I just finished giving to the paramedics. At least the paramedic had the right mind to let the cop copy of his sheet as he was trying to convey the urgency of getting me to a hospital. But no, the officer still needs my ID and to question me about the whole incident while I'm half concious in the back of an ambulance.

Not that he wasn't doing his job, I understand he needed to get a statement to assure that incident wasn't due to a criminal act. So I get where he was coming from, but I mean, a little common sense and decency would have been nice, maybe get a statement from me when I'm in a position to give one. Maybe this isn't just a BART police thing, it could be an every police thing. But it's my understanding that regular police will swing by the hospital AFTERWARDS to pick up the necessary data.

Shrapnel's picture

What station were you at and what day of the week was it?

I can try and figure it out, so I can let her know that you say thanks and she can check here for herself.

off topic) bart vs. muni subways which is safer why?

ekliptikz's picture

Um, lets see, I think lake merrit on a tuesday or thursday (most likely tuesday) at say 6:30pm or so