BART police chief to retire
OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Bart Police Chief Carlos Rojas will retire in May, after thirty years in law enforcement.
Rojas, 50, says there is no pressure for him to leave.
"No pressure at all, quite the opposite , the General Manager did ask me to stay longer," the Chief told KTVU by phone.
And Rojas has only positive things to say about his time with the transit system.
"I had a wonderful time working with a great group of people," said Rojas, "and the quality of the officers is what I'll miss most, those experience are what I'll remember most."
Rojas says he's proud of improving the culture at Bart Police: a force he believes is more productive and proactive than when he arrived two years ago.
He came to BART from Santa Ana, where he rose through the ranks to chief over 27 years.
Now he'll return to Southern California, where he can spend more time with his elderly parents.
Plus, Rojas has a son who is a college athlete, in his senior year at West Point Military Academy.
"I want to experience my son playing soccer at a very high level, probably for the last time in his life, and I want to spend more time with the family overall," said Rojas.
He admits facing challenges during his two year tenure: highly- publicized drug use at the Civic Center station, and a fatal officer-involved shooting in Oakland, in which body-camera video was released amid criticism about excessive force.
Rojas' worst day: the fatal stabbing of passenger Nia Wilson, just 18 years old.
"It was so harsh, so unprovoked, just an outright homicide of a beautiful young lady," said Rojas.
It was followed by one of his prouder moments: the swift arrest of a suspect.
Rojas says safety, strong-arm robberies, and fare-evasion were priorities, and will remain so.
"He was an officer's cop, he supported us, and we could have conversations with him, a good guy," said Officer Steve Christ, a member of the BART Police Officers Executive Board.
The police union appreciated how Rojas beefed up surveillance, resulting in higher arrest numbers.
He also helped negotiate a new contract, that encouraged more recruitment, and cut the number of vacant officer positions by half.
"He was a good leader, hopefully the next one is as good or better than Chief Rojas, he will be missed," said Christ.
Rojas was more visible than previous BART leaders, often visiting stations and riding trains.
His legacy, he hopes, is a police force that continues to grow and increase its profile.
"I hope they continue to make me proud by continuing to hire more officers because the Bay Area definitely deserves that," concluded Rojas.
BART General Manager Grace Crunican issued a statement thanking Rojas and wishing him well.
She will appoint an acting chief in the next few weeks, then launch a nationwide search for a new chief.
Rojas' annual salary was just over $260,000, not including benefits.