bartpolice_generic.jpgAfter a lengthy search, BART directors have voted unanimously to appoint Mark T. Smith of Chicago as the transit agency’s first independent police auditor.

BART officials decided to create a police auditor position and have a citizen review board following the shooting death of unarmed passenger Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old Hayward man, at the hands of former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle.

The shooting occurred at the Fruitvale station in Oakland on Jan. 1, 2009, after Mehserle responded to reports that there was a fight on a train.

Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter last year and is serving a two-year state prison term. He is expected to be paroled soon.

BART directors also formed a Police Department Review Committee that consists of three board members.

BART directors appointed 11 community members to the citizen review board on March 10 but the board won’t begin its work until Smith starts work at the transit agency. BART officials said his first day on the job hasn’t yet been determined.

Smith and the citizen’s review board will review, recommend and monitor the implementation of changes to police policies, procedures and practices.

They also will receive citizen allegations of on-duty police misconduct and participate in recommending disciplinary action and community outreach.

BART Director Lynette Sweet, who chairs the Police Department Review Committee, said, “We promised the public that we would improve our policing services. The appointment of an independent police auditor is further proof that we are delivering on our commitments.”

Smith has been the first deputy chief administrator of Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority since January 2009.

He previously served as a special investigator for the Los Angeles Police Commission’s Office of Inspector General, where his duties included investigating police misconduct complaints and officer-involved shootings.

Smith received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley, where he had a double major in political science and rhetoric, and his law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law.

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

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