OAKLAND — The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit police chief said Wednesday he’s asked the department’s former auditor to review progress in meeting reforms instituted after the controversial fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white transit officer.
Chief Kenton Rainey said Patrick Oliver of the Ohio-based National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) will begin his assessment next month. Oliver oversaw an audit of BART police and made recommendations after a scathing report in 2010 criticized the department’s handling of the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant by former officer Johannes Mehserle on an Oakland train station platform on New Year’s Day 2009.
The shooting was recorded by several bystanders, sparked public outcry and numerous violent protests in the city over what many claimed was police brutality. Mesherle was sentenced for involuntary manslaughter.
Among the reforms the department adopted three years ago were improved hiring practices, increased officer training, better reporting of incidents involving use of force and better relations with the community.
“We’ve made some progress on the recommendations, and we have a long way to go,” Rainey said. “We are constantly evolving and adapting to the needs for service.”
Rainey said while crime across BART is down overall, he is worried about the rise in cellphone and tablet thefts, which mirrors a national trend.
“We’re good in some areas, but those thefts (of electronic devices), that’s really driving our crime right now,” Rainey said.