Six months after the tragic shooting of Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale station in Oakland, BART has finally presented a draft for the installation of an independent police auditor and a citizen committee to supervise and manage BART’s police department.
Proposals for a police oversight body amplified after the highly controversial shooting of Oscar Grant early this year. The death of Grant was for many a reminder that BART needs independent, civilian oversight in order to keep BART’s internal policies in check.
In January, San Francisco Democrats Senators Leland Yee and Tom Ammiano initiated legislation to form a civilian-based police oversight body. The oversight body would be based on SF’s Office of Citizen Complaints.
The independent auditor would investigate claims of “police officer misconduct regarding unnecessary or excessive use of force, racial profiling, sexual orientation bias, sexual harassment and the use of deadly force (and) suspicious and wrongful deaths.”
Though the initial proposal called for an independent auditor to regulate BART police, it did not call for civilian oversight. But a more recent draft of the plan includes the latter.
The new and improved draft goes something like this:
BART’s two police associations are to assign a member of the civilian board to oversee their officers. The plan also requires a two-thirds vote from the Civilian Review Board and the BART Board of Directors to appeal discipline decisions made by the chief of police and general manager.
But Ammiano feels that BART still has it wrong and has not implemented a strong enough plan for police oversight: “BART fails to understand that its reluctance to reform simply further diminishes the public’s already poor perception of the agency and shows an unwillingness to make change in even the most obvious and tragic of situations. BART must salvage its remaining integrity by supporting strong civilian oversight.”
Concerns from the public regarding this draft mostly question whether or not this will truly keep police authority in check and will properly control the police department, so that shootings like Oscar Grant’s will no longer occur.
To view a video on the board meeting held to discuss the draft last week, visit BARTtv.