SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — About a month and a half on the job, BART’s new police chief says crime on his trains and stations is on the rise, as it is in many cities throughout the Bay Area.
Riders have noticed it too at a time when BART changed the way it releases crime information to the public.
And the chief says he knows there’s a public interest in sharing surveillance video of crimes.
But he says that information has to be released on a case-by-case basis.
The rise in crime is alarming to BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas.
“I’m seeing it throughout the state,” Rojas said. “Crime, crime increasing, and I don’t see us any different.”
Rojas says BART is budgeted for 224 sworn officers, but right now, he has only about 184 on staff.
That leaves the department about 40 officers short.
“We’re in the process of hiring now,” Rojas said.
Bolstering the staff, he says, will allow him to focus resources on crime hot spots.
“We’re looking at the robbery issues, putting out a robbery suppression detail to try to prevent these crimes,” Rojas said. “Ideally, we want to be on the side of prevention because we can’t arrest ourselves out of a problem.”
Instead of emailing out police logs of crimes happening at BART stations, the chief says he recently decided to make that information available on the website crimemapping.com.
That frees up the officer, who would typically create the log, to perform other duties.
As of this year, every station entrance and train car are outfitted with surveillance cameras.
And despite the will of many BART riders, the chief says not all surveillance video of crimes will be made public.
“It’s really a case by case basis, and it really has to be fact-based,” Rojas said. “I would not be in favor of releasing video for sensationalization purposes or entertainment or anything like that. I mean, I think we have to think about our victims as well. I think that’s very important to have compassion for people that are victimized, whether it’s in our BART system or in a municipality.”
The chief says he will consider releasing the video if a crime captured on camera has public value and won’t compromise an investigation.
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