BART is about to begin advertising for more police officers. The police department is understaffed and is actively reaching out to hire more officers, at a time when BART has seen a series of recent high-profile crimes.
Crime statistics show violent crimes are up the first half of this year on BART. Property crimes such as car break-ins are up 14 percent.
But at the same time BART's police force is understaffed by 39 officers. That's about 20 percent.Bart Police Chief Carlos Rojas told a BART board committee the police department is actively recruiting officers. .
"We are making a big push to hire qualified candidates to members of the BART police department," said Rojas. But he says it's a challenge.
BART says an enticement it is offering $10-thousand bonuses to experienced officers to work with BART. It will also begin advertising on trains and at community colleges.The current police staff is spread thin.
"Often times we will have officers on overtime and working longer hours. So it is very important to get up to staff so we can continue to be that presence on the train and increase our presence on the trains," said Rojas.
Many passengers say BART definitely needs more officers. "At night it is different. You don't see security around," said passenger.
We met one one longtime BART passenger who had just become a BART crime victim. She went to get her Toyota in the Walnut Creek BART Station parking garage after work and found not one, but two of her windows broken.
"I feel terrible, I thought it was safe," said the victim who asked we just use her first name, Erika
A BART police officer dusted for fingerprints and says he will check security cameras in the garage. The car owner says nothing material was taken. But she still had concerned.
"Personal information. I'm concerned about that. They can find me online, steal my identity. I don't know," she said. The police chief hopes to be full staffed within the next 18 months.