BART Bicycle Program Seeks To Increase Visibility of Police

Pilot Program Expects To Take Police Cars Off Streets, Improve Access To Stations for Officers

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In recognition of Earth Day, BART officials announced the initiation of a pilot bicycle program for police officers Wednesday at the North Berkeley BART station.

The plan is expected to park between 24 and 26 police cars during daytime hours and instead place 27 to 29 officers on bicycles by the end of the summer.

After five years of attempts to resurrect the program, which was last implemented in 1995 on a smaller scale, a recently acquired $92,000 state safety and security grant allowed the change to move forward, according to Lt. Bill Schultz, head of the BART Police Department's bicycle unit.

BART board of directors Vice President Bob Franklin said he hopes switching to bicycle use for both community service officers and patrol officers will increase their visibility and access, simplifying the task of covering BART's large lots.

"Right now, (officers) either have to walk or drive through a parking lot and they can't necessarily see or hear anything," he said.

According to district surveys conducted in the aftermath of the shooting of Oscar Grant III by a former BART officer last year, this increased visibility may also address the public's perception of the department, Schultz said.

"After the shooting in January, what we were hearing from our patrons is that we weren't visible," Schultz said. "Having an officer on our bike puts them on our property more often because they get on a train instead of the freeway (to get to stations)."

The program could also save about $50,000 for the department, Schultz added, based on rough estimates derived from the preliminary program involving three officers.

Franklin said that given their total budget of $640 million, "it's not a huge savings, but everything helps."

As part of BART's overall carbon emissions reduction program, placing officers on bicycles will also have environmental benefits, Schultz said.

Officer participation in the program is voluntary and requires a 24-hour training course with the El Cerrito Police Department, as well as a four-hour annual refresher course, Franklin said.

"It's a back-to-the-basics type of police work," Schultz said. "It's getting the officers back into the community."

Tags: BART

Contact Hannah Moulthrop at [email protected]

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