BART launched a new app this morning that will enable riders to more easily report crimes and suspicious activities to transit police.
BART Watch is free to download from the agency’s website www.bart.gov, as well as the Apple App Store and Google Play.
“This new technology will allow us to partner with our riders so they can ‘see something, say something’ and help us keep the system safer and more secure,” BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey said in a statement.
The app will also be offered in Spanish and Chinese.
Riders will be able to use BART Watch to send a text message of what they are seeing. There is an option to attach a picture to the text message.
The app also allows riders to call BART police directly or send text reports anonymously.
In areas with no cellular service, a text message sent will be delivered once the rider goes to an area with service.
The app has pull-down menus that lets riders choose which report they want to send, including a crime in progress, an illegally parked vehicle, disruptive behavior, a robbery or theft, an unattended bag or package and vandalism.
The reports will go directly to BART police dispatch to be prioritized for response.
BART police will also use the app to send alerts out to riders, which Fairow said is a valuable tool in cases like missing children or endangered adults.
BART Deputy Chief of Police Benson Fairow said at a morning news conference today at the Powell Street station in San Francisco that police had already received two messages from riders.
One was about disruptive behavior, and the other was about an issue with a door at a station.
Fairow said police understand there is the potential some users may use the app to crank message the department.
“The BART Watch app should be looked at just like somebody calling in,” Fairow said, adding the messages can be tracked if the crank message is deemed a criminal.
“The anonymity is definitely there for people wanting to report a crime, but if somebody wants to commit a crime using the app, that is a different story.”
Dennis Culver, Bay City News