OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - As BART restructures its staffing plan, Deputy Chief Lance Haight was out on patrol Friday, riding the trains, letting passengers know it’s still safe to ride BART, despite recent violent crimes including the stabbing death of Nia Wilson.
"We have over 400,000 riders a day, two-million a week. For those one or two incidents, they're very isolated. The vast majority of people who ride BART make it from their point of origin to their destination without any instances," says Haight.
Weeks after Wilson's death, BART rolled out a plan to improve public safety on its trains. It included three weeks were all officers and some staff members had to work 10-hour shifts six days a week.
The agency knew it couldn't sustain that workload and ended that staffing plan on Monday.
"I haven't seen a difference in BART. Like security and police, I haven't seen a difference, and I ride Bart every day," says BART rider Juanita White.
Even with the increased staffing, BART still had incidents. This past Saturday BART officials said 59-year-old Jamarr Coleman slashed the thumb of a passenger at the MacArthur station. After the incident, the agency released video surveillance of Coleman, which lead to an arrest by Oakland police on Thursday.
"We were able to leverage our surveillance technology, and the great work of our detectives and our officers, to bring this person to justice," said Haight.
Even still, BART claims passengers saw a difference with the added emergency patrols, but those shifts are over for now. Instead, there will be the standard 24 officers working, and two other specialized units. Including the department's Critical Asset Protection Team.
"Six officers and a sergeant that are concentrated in the central corridor of BART in downtown Oakland and downtown San Francisco. We have our K9 officers that are very visible to the public," said Haight, describing the Critical Asset Protection Team.
Starting next month, BART will use its $6,800,000 federal grant to improve safety, which includes upgrading cameras at three stations. The agency is also considering a $28 million upgrade which includes more police staffing. Lastly, BART is still looking to fill 21 positions on the police force.
"I feel safe when I ride BART. It's basically up to me to be aware of my surroundings. It's not up to other people to watch out for me I got to watch out for myself," said BART rider Desirae Velasquez.