OAKLAND (KRON) — BART police Chief Carlos Rojas addressed the rise in sexual assaults on BART Tuesday.
Rojas said that the increase in rapes and other sexual crimes on the transit system so far this year is troubling but shouldn’t be blown out of proportion.
Rojas said FBI statistics show that there were seven rapes reported on BART property from January through the end of June, compared to four in 2016, three in 2015 and two in 2014.
He said there has also been an increase in the number of reported sexual assaults, with 28 in the first six months of the year, which is the same number of sexual assaults reported during all of 2016, which was already up 75 percent from 2015 when only 16 sexual assault cases were reported.
“Well, we’re working on it,” Rojas said when asked what they are doing to help combat the problem. “We’ve made arrests in most of the cases.”
Rojas said that although all of the reported rapes involved sexual violence, not all involved forced sexual intercourse, which is the traditional definition of rape.
Under federal crime reporting standards, sexual assaults with the intent to commit rape are reported as rapes, he said.
“One rape or sexual assault is too many,” Rojas said.
He noted there’s no indication that the crimes, most of which occurred at East Bay stations, are connected and said arrests have been made in some but not all of the rape cases.
A report that Rojas presented to BART’s Operations, Safety and Workforce Committee today indicates that at a time when concerns are growing about crime at the transit system, BART is having a hard time recruiting and retaining enough police officers.
Director Debora Allen, who represents Walnut Creek and surrounding cities in Contra Costa County, said after the meeting that 40 of the police officer positions that BART has budgeted for are unfilled.
“We should have more officers” because the transit system opened the new Warm Springs station in Fremont earlier this year and plans to open other new stations in the near future, Allen said.
Speaking about a related topic, Allen said she’s glad that BART will resume sending out daily reports for felony crimes and will issue monthly crime reports to BART directors.
Rojas, who became chief on May 25, discontinued the daily logs in early June, opting instead to send crime data to the free online tool CrimeMapping.com.
“We have to have facts in order to identify the (crime) problem and to identify solutions,” Allen said.
Bay City News contributed to this report
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