Former Berkeley Police Chief Daschel Butler will serve as BART’s interim police chief while the agency searches for a permanent top cop to replace retiring chief Gary Gee, BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger announced today.

Butler is expected to begin work in mid-January after he clears the state’s Peace Officers Standards & Training administrative requirements, according to Dugger.

Wednesday is Gee’s last day as BART’s police chief.

Gee, 64, announced his retirement in August and went on medical leave in September but returned to work a few weeks ago.

Cmdr. Maria White headed the Police Department while Gee was on leave and she will again head the department in the short period before Butler takes over.

Gee’s leadership of the Police Department was scrutinized after the shooting death of unarmed passenger Oscar Grant III at the hands of former Officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale station in Oakland early on New Year’s Day.

BART is currently conducting a nationwide search for a successor to Gee and a new chief isn’t expected to start work until April 26.

Butler, 60, worked for the Berkeley Police Department for 31 years. He became the department’s chief in 1990 and retired in May 2002.

In a statement, Dugger said, “Daschel served the Berkeley Police Department as its chief for 12 years with distinction and honor.”

Dugger said, “He brings to BART a wealth of knowledge, respect and integrity. I’m pleased he’s agreed to lead the BART Police Department on an interim basis until we find a permanent police chief.”

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