In an effort to regain the public's trust, BART will be stepping up police patrols aboard trains and at stations, agency officials said Tuesday.
In the wake of a string of recent high-profile crimes on the rails, riders will start seeing more officers in and around trains, BART police Chief Carlos Rojas said.
Rojas said it all comes down the staffing levels and priorities, and they are now prepared to beef up their presence on the trains.
Officers Carlos Dazhan and Julie Liu are part of BART's critical asset patrol team, or CAP.
"The public feels safer with us around, and it helps deter crime," Dazhan said.
The officers spend their shifts patroling train cars throughout the East Bay.
The CAP team is funded by the Department of Homeland Security, and for the first time since the team was implemented in 2011, it’s fully staffed with seven officers and one sergeant.
"It fluctuated from three to four and a supervisor," BART's deputy police chief Ed Alvarez said. "That was it. With vacation and time off, it didn’t provide us the staffing we needed that was adequate to ride the trains."
Alvarez said in the past year there’s been an increase in crime throughout the transit system. On Monday, police arrested Mario Washington on suspicion of using bolt cutters to assault a rider in the East Bay and assaulting another rider in San Francisco in what were deemed random attacks.
Oscar Rodriguez is a union representative for train agents and operators. He says they’ve been asking for increased patrols on trains for months, and he's glad to hear the CAP team is fully staffed.
"A lot of angry people out there," he said. "The station agents are having a lot more problems with violent behavior in the stations."
While CAP team is fully staffed after several officers from other teams were reassigned, officials say BART's police force still is understaffed and is looking to hire 50 officers.