BART tards and crime time

IMG_2672On Sunday afternoon, SFPD were patrolling the Civic Center BART station (not this photo) in the middle of the day, with guns at the ready. I was waiting for a train to go home, along with a bunch of folks who had just gotten out of Hamilton. (Love, love “Hamilton,” btw. If you have a spare ticket, message me!) Two people near me said, “Oh, I’ve never seen that before.” Meaning, we’ve never seen SFPD at a BART station. I said, “Oh, I’ve never seen BART police before, ha ha.” I take BART everyday to work, and everyday, it seems there is some delay due to a “police activity” and/or “medical emergency” and then ALL of the trains on the single track need to be held up for 10 to 15 minutes to wait for the situation to be taken care of.

A few weeks ago, I was on a train coming from Berkeley back into Oakland, and there was a fight on the train adjacent to me. We watched it happen through the double doors — and then some of the passengers came through the doors onto our train. The fight involved what appeared to be young kids — probably teenagers or young adults. Someone called BART police, but they don’t ride the trains. I don’t even know where they are. …

The conductor came on the speaker and said that “due to a police activity” the train would be held for 10-15 minutes. The train stopped — which meant we were waiting for BART police to show up at the next station. True to form, the train pulls up at the station, and there is a BART cop waiting to take care of the situation. Meanwhile, we all have been waiting on board with this fight happening on the train.

Is this supposed to make me feel safe, make me want to take BART?

Who is the BART tard? The kids acting up, the cops nowhere to be seen, or the announcer explaining the daily situation? … Or maybe, I am the BART tard for sticking with this system. (And “tard” is supposed to kind-of rhyme with BART.)

Crime time: Have you heard the one about BART posting crime data online? Tell me when you can find it — note: They don’t post BART stations, you need to search for them. Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the next train to Warm Springs, wherever that is.

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Police as a campaign issue

Mayor Jean Quan is up for re-election – and her opponents are all attacking her for a weak Oakland police force and increased crime. I’m not sure what to believe at this point or who to follow, as I’ve only lived here for about 2 years.

Jean Quan

Here is what some of the opponents say on the issue of crime and OPD:

In Libby Schaaf’s campaign literature, she wants to: “Work to hire more police officers to protect every Oakland neighborhood and bring the Oakland Police Department up to full strength.”

From Joe Tuman’s website: “The residents of Oakland deserve to feel safe. I promise to do this by rebuilding OPD and working hard to shorten the response time.” (Joe Tuman is from S.F. State, my alma mater!)

From Bryan Parker’s website: “As mayor, Bryan would focus city spending on more police and anti-violence programs that are proven to combat crime. … More police are needed, but we also need to keep kids in school and off the streets so they can achieve a better future.

Personally, I don’t have strong feelings against the mayor – I could go either way on her and her performance – but I don’t really feel that impassioned toward what any of the candidates are saying. They basically all are saying the same thing – hire more police officers – and that requires money. In my neighborhood, we have an increase in break-ins, and my own apartment building was broken into a few months ago. But would having more police officers have prevented any of that? I’m not sure. Do more police officers do patrol? Where would they do the patrols? West Oakland is a mess, has been for decades. East Oakland is a war zone. More officers could be dispatched there first before they do a neighborhood watch across town.

I’m inclined to agree more with what Bryan Parker is saying – that there are basic systemic problems with poverty, education, drugs and recidivism first and foremost to tackle. It’s a double-edged sword: more cops, and more social programs.