bartpolice_generic.jpgAs the Bay Area awaits
the verdict of the Johannes Mehserle trial
with bated breath and tensions
over the possibility of a post-trial riot in Oakland
, everyone from office
workers standing by the water cooler to media moguls and politicians are discussing
the potential outcome of the case.

Included in this chatter is former San
Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who is putting in his two cents (as he so often
does) via his
weekly column in the San Francisco Chronicle
.

In
this week’s edition of “Willie’s World,”
Brown predicts that Meheserle will
receive a sentence of involuntary manslaughter, then goes on to question the
necessity of BART officers carrying guns in the first place, since they are not
“real police officers out on patrol.”

“They are transit cops. They aren’t going
to be in a shootout with anybody. Not on a BART platform, or in a parking lot
or in a BART car. Too many people could get hurt if there was a real shootout,”
Brown said.

In an e-mail to the SF Appeal, BART’s Chief
Communications Officer Linton Johnson disputed Mayor Brown’s comments, arguing
that BART officers are no different from the SFPD’s boys in blue.

“BART Police are sworn police officers just
like any other police officer in the state of California. As such they are
trained to state standards and now after the trial we have enhanced that
training further,” Johnson said.

Johnson also added that the need for BART
officers to carry guns also comes from the fact that BART is on the top 10 list
of potential terrorist targets in California, as he cited that roughly 75% of
all acts of terrorism worldwide have occurred on public transportation.

“I hope the Mayor is correct–that our
officers are never in a situation where a suspect or a terrorist is firing at
them,” Johnson said. “But in the event that does happen, I hope our officers win–and
I’m guessing that couldn’t happen without a weapon.”

Spokesperson Johnson additionally provided
support from a third-party
report by NOBLE
(the National Association of Black Law Enforcement
Executives) published earlier this year which concluded the need for BART
officers to be armed while on duty. The report followed up an earlier
assessment from September 2009, which lambasted
BART’s handling of the Oscar Grant shooting
and criticized the transit
agency as a whole.

So does Willie Brown’s argument that BART
cops don’t need guns because they aren’t “real police officers” carry merit, or
is it just a necessary evil for BART officers to be equipped with weapons in
case of a potential serious threat?

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  • wordygirl

    I want to know how Bart “police” are trained to use their guns. Obviously not very well if an officer can reach for his taser and mistake it for a REAL gun. Gun Toting 101: Which side of your fucking holster holds your gun!? Wasn’t his gun locked? Didn’t he have to unlock it to shoot Oscar Grant?

    Sorry … venting a little off topic for a bit.

    How could gun-toting Bart police protect us from or stop a terrorist attack? Really, what difference would it make if they have guns or not?

    It seems to me that these people are not trained to use the equipment they already have, so take the equipment away until they learn to use it properly, safely, and responsibly.

  • wordygirl

    I want to know how Bart “police” are trained to use their guns. Obviously not very well if an officer can reach for his taser and mistake it for a REAL gun. Gun Toting 101: Which side of your fucking holster holds your gun!? Wasn’t his gun locked? Didn’t he have to unlock it to shoot Oscar Grant?

    Sorry … venting a little off topic for a bit.

    How could gun-toting Bart police protect us from or stop a terrorist attack? Really, what difference would it make if they have guns or not?

    It seems to me that these people are not trained to use the equipment they already have, so take the equipment away until they learn to use it properly, safely, and responsibly.

  • variable455

    “It seems to me that these people are not trained to use the equipment they already have, so take the equipment away until they learn to use it properly, safely, and responsibly.”

    “these people”.. so by your logic, I should have my drivers license revoked because some old guy mistook the gas for the brake and drove into a store front.. and killed 2 people that were in the way?

    I think it more reasonable to have the OFFENDING drivers punished.. not EVERYONE.

    Gun Toting 101: Which side of your fucking holster holds your gun!? Wasn’t his gun locked? Didn’t he have to unlock it to shoot Oscar Grant?

    Which side of the holster? The holster is the thing you put on your belt.. the gun goes in the holster ONE WAY, and the holster can hang on either side of your body. Oh, and since most people are NOT ambidextrous, the holster goes on the side of your shooting hand.. I do not want a right handed cop shooting me with his left, ok?

    locked? like in a drawer? or do you mean with safety on?

    You clearly don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

    London cops were famous for not carrying weapons. after the subway and buses got blown up, they are armed.. with sub machine guns. no way of telling if that would have prevented the attacks, but you never know.

  • variable455

    “It seems to me that these people are not trained to use the equipment they already have, so take the equipment away until they learn to use it properly, safely, and responsibly.”

    “these people”.. so by your logic, I should have my drivers license revoked because some old guy mistook the gas for the brake and drove into a store front.. and killed 2 people that were in the way?

    I think it more reasonable to have the OFFENDING drivers punished.. not EVERYONE.

    Gun Toting 101: Which side of your fucking holster holds your gun!? Wasn’t his gun locked? Didn’t he have to unlock it to shoot Oscar Grant?

    Which side of the holster? The holster is the thing you put on your belt.. the gun goes in the holster ONE WAY, and the holster can hang on either side of your body. Oh, and since most people are NOT ambidextrous, the holster goes on the side of your shooting hand.. I do not want a right handed cop shooting me with his left, ok?

    locked? like in a drawer? or do you mean with safety on?

    You clearly don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

    London cops were famous for not carrying weapons. after the subway and buses got blown up, they are armed.. with sub machine guns. no way of telling if that would have prevented the attacks, but you never know.

  • wordygirl

    Wow, that was profoundly beneficial to the conversation. Thanks, asshole!

  • wordygirl

    Wow, that was profoundly beneficial to the conversation. Thanks, asshole!

  • Eve Batey

    You two! Don’t make me take your keyboards away until y’all learn to use them civilly!

  • Eve Batey

    You two! Don’t make me take your keyboards away until y’all learn to use them civilly!

  • bloomsm

    Willie is spot on. There is no reason for a BART security officer to carry a deadly weapon. They are not adequately trained, for one thing. SFPD cadets undergo stress tests to avoid pulling a gun at the wrong moment. BART police are not as well trained (there is no BART academy like SF’s police academy in Diamond Heights). Thus, a young cop like Mehserle makes a fatal error when he should be better trained.

    Wordygirl is not far off about where to put the taser. The first cop I spoke to after the Grant shooting said “training error.” The taser belongs on the hand you do not use to shoot. There’s no confusion that way.

  • bloomsm

    Willie is spot on. There is no reason for a BART security officer to carry a deadly weapon. They are not adequately trained, for one thing. SFPD cadets undergo stress tests to avoid pulling a gun at the wrong moment. BART police are not as well trained (there is no BART academy like SF’s police academy in Diamond Heights). Thus, a young cop like Mehserle makes a fatal error when he should be better trained.

    Wordygirl is not far off about where to put the taser. The first cop I spoke to after the Grant shooting said “training error.” The taser belongs on the hand you do not use to shoot. There’s no confusion that way.