Officials with the Bay Area Rapid Transit said Wednesday they will replace all fake security cameras with working ones, following the shooting death of a passenger, although when they will be installed and how much it will cost has not yet been revealed.
“BART has committed to install a working camera system on each and every train car as quickly as possible," a statement from BART said. "Staff is already working on funding options, a procurement plan, and deployment strategy. Our riders and employees' safety is BART's top priority."
Questions about whether the cameras work arose after BART officials refused to say if security cameras had captured the Jan. 9 killing of a passenger aboard a train.
Carlos Misael Funez-Romero, a 19-year-old resident of Antioch, was shot and killed on a San Francisco-bound train as it pulled into the West Oakland station at 7:45 p.m.
The suspect then fled from the station into the neighborhood. In the course of the investigation, police released surveillance photos of the man leaving the West Oakland station but did not release photos from inside the train car.
BART spokesperson Alicia Trost declined to say how many train cars had working cameras and how many had decoys, citing security concerns because the decoys are only effective if would-be criminals think the cameras are potentially real.
"That was our system for many years," Trost said.
So far there is no timeline or cost estimate for equipping all trains with working cameras.
"We are working as quickly as possible," Trost said. "We heard the public loud and clear that they were unhappy to hear that we were using decoys. Staff is already working on funding options, a procurement plan, and a deployment strategy. The safety of our riders and employees is our top priority."
In June, a team of Bay Area congressmen and women wrote a letter to the Department of Homeland Security in support of BART's request of $10.8 million to fund "critical patrol teams and security cameras," specifcally at the West Oakland station. However, the agency received a tenth of their request: $1.6 million.
The plan might need approval by the BART board of directors, depending on the cost. The board received a report on the shooting from General Manager Grace Crunican during its meeting Thursday but she did not discuss the lack of cameras, only saying that she may be bringing recommended security improvements to the board in the coming weeks or months.
The shooting suspect remains at large. Police describe him as a black man in his late 20s to early 30s who is about 6 feet 2 inches tall with a skinny build, broad shoulders and a scruffy face. He was wearing a long green trench coat over a dark hooded sweatshirt with its hood up, dark pants, a dark backpack and was armed with a black semi-automatic handgun.
Anyone with information about the shooting has been asked to call BART police at (510) 464-7040 or call (510) 464-7011 to make an anonymous tip.
BART's new Fleet of the Future trains already have cameras on all cars, BART said.
Bay City News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.