This fall on Fox: BART SWAT!

There are ads in BART recruiting for the BART Police. Now, the thought of BART Police makes me giggle already, but did you know they have a SWAT team?

WHY?

What kind of egregious case of turnstile-jumping ranks a SWAT team? Don't we have real cops for that?

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45 Responses:

  1. Wait, and now you say you were on BART?!?!?!? What have you done with our jwz?

  2. autopope says:

    What kind of egregious case of turnstile-jumping ranks a SWAT team?

    This kind.

    (Not that the London Metropolitan Transport Police were able to do much, but ...)

    • jwz says:

      See also, "don't we have real cops for that."

      Also, the entire BART system could probably be rolled up and fit inside 3 or 4 tube stations.

    • Unfortunately, the incident which involved actual turnstile jumping was this one, and really, it would've been better not to have cops, real or otherwise, on hand.

      • fnivramd says:

        Although some reports at the time said he'd jumped the barrier actually CCTV footage clearly shows him using an Oyster card and entering like all the other passengers. The only difference is that he was being pursued by armed men who had already decided to shoot him in the head.

        The really indigestible bit is the police coverup. When it all comes out (as inevitably these things do) it'll be a very sour time for the Met.

  3. strspn says:

    More than half of the BART police time is spent on burglaries from cars parked in their lots, so why not let them pretend that they'll have a hostage situation in the transbay tube some day? A cop who hates his job is a cop you don't want to be anywhere near, and if their joint terrorism task force exercises with the IDF and FBI make them feel better, I'm okay with it

  4. rly says:

    In Toronto, the TTC cops are indeed rebranded real cops. Of course, I can't think of a time when I've actually seen any other than in the recruitment posters.

  5. the_p0pe says:

    i bet it has something to do with fragile pseudo law enforcement egos.

  6. allartburns says:

    WHY DO YOU WANT THE TERRORISTS TO WIN?!?!?!?

  7. davidglasser says:

    Funny you mention turnstile jumping today, given yesterday's BART events: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/01/BA5513RV7C.DTL

  8. holywar says:

    BART's not the only one. MARTA in Atlanta has their own SWAT team as well. And I don't quite understand the reasoning, either. Ego and turf wars, I'd imagine.

    • romulusnr says:

      Boston's MBTA apparently does too.

      I gotta admit, silly as it may seem to have redundant teams, the thought of an armored subway train packed with SMG-toting storm troopers sounds pretty kick-ass.

      I'm sure it's not really that cool.

    • gfish says:

      Targeted development grants. Someone gives you money that can only be used to build a SWAT team, you build a SWAT team.

      • greyface says:

        More Likely: Somebody gives you money that can only be used for transportation security, you throw it in a furnace. (aka, transit cop SWAT)

  9. romulusnr says:

    Sounds like Boston and its half-dozen segregate police authorities.

    • fo0bar says:

      Funny enough, this is basically the exact opposite. The BART system spans approximately 857 different cities. OK, I don't have exact numbers (why have you failed me, The Wikipedia?), but it's at least 20. Coordinating police presence across 43 stations and dozens of cities would have been prohibitive, so BART was designated a separate jurisdiction. Of course, they're real cops, and the way California is done, they have peace officer status throughout the state. As a result, BART Police, local police and CHP often cooperate on various things.

      The fact that they have a SWAT team is funny, but not exactly surprising.

  10. They bust all of 4 people a day (just saw the numbers for bart busts the other day, under 1400 for a year) for that, I bet I could bust 2 a day without trying, so I'm guessing that those are the ones who bump into a bart cop while jumping the turnstile.

  11. amberley says:

    I'd suspect it has something to do with sweet, sweet DHS grant money. Remember, if security makes sense, the terrorists win!

    On the other hand, I heard they're also stationing BART Paramedics at a few stations where they're commonly needed, which should reduce delays now and then, or so the radio report claimed.

  12. mc_kingfish says:

    It's discouraging to me that you hate America.

    • tjcrowley says:

      The terrorists have won.

      • strspn says:

        Not true. Remember, the Taliban cut opium production. If the terrorists were actually winning, the BART police would be getting more K-9 teams, not more SWAT training. If people with brains were winning, they would be directing the police to write their reports to emphasize the reasons that fares are clearly too high.

  13. muftak says:

    I just came over to san francisco today, and got finger printed, photographed, interrogated twice, and full bag search, and I thought london was bad.

  14. sircyan says:

    Vancouver's SkyTrain system got their security force upgraded to the "TransLink Police" several years ago. It was a pretty big deal in the media, since an upgrade to a "real" police force meant arming the officers with firearms (instead of just pepper spray as before). I hope they have some damn good anti-grab holsters, because it seems like a platform full of people is the last place you'd want to be wearing a gun on your hip.

    Anyway. At Stadium SkyTrain Station, they have a complete mockup of a "Mark I" SkyTrain car in the basement just for practicing takedowns in hostage-taking scenarios and the like. Occasionally they'll work with the local police on fictional situations. One of them involved a stopped SkyTrain car between Columbia and New Westminster, with the NWPD and TransLink Police working together to take it down. That training scenario happened after regular service hours.

    On an unrelated note, I don't know how much you folks care about it (probably not at all), but Vancouver has its own "abandoned" monorail station. It's a relic from Expo '86, and I managed to "legally gain entry" to take a few photos: http://rrx.ca/Stadium_Gate_Station/

    -RS.

  15. hoyhoy says:

    I have seen a cadre of BART Swat policemen swarming around a Powell street train in a valiant attempt to capture what was probably either a terrorist or turnstile jumper. Either way, I felt safer knowing that a flash mob of BARTcops could appear at a moment's notice to thwart a terror attack or turnstile jumper.

    In conclusion, why do you hate America?

  16. What annoys me about the BART police is they don't actually ride BART. They spend most of their time in their police cars. Occasionally they'll stop a train and make everyone wait while they do a sweep with a drug-sniffing dog. Sometimes they'll hang out in the concourse or on a platform during rush hour so they can hassle bicyclists who know the rules thank you. But actually ride? Never.

    • latemodel says:

      You clearly don't spend much time on BART. It's not every day, but I often see them milling around the platform and have certainly seen them riding on the trains.

  17. bifrosty2k says:

    I know someone who used to be a Bart Cop, he also used to be a Glowstickraver...

    I know more than I'd like to know about BART PD + SWAT...

    • mutiny says:

      "Did you know BART police have the license to shoot a fleeting man?"

      They do have jurisdiction in every town that BART runs across, though.

  18. latemodel says:

    Other folks have said it already, but given that transit networks are a common target for terrorist attacks, I can understand having a specialized division to deal with that. (Not that these events happen often; rather, that it's a popular venue once someone has decided to perpetrate some showy violence.) It's definitely a different challenge from the standard petty crime and occasional thuggery.

    Now, whether or not BART's Tactical Team (as their badges identify them) are actually doing this, I can't say. The only time I've ever seen them was last night, standing around above ground at 16th Street station.

  19. mysterc says:

    BART has its own SWAT team because of the specialized environment they work in. They are real cops and have been around long before the terrorism scares. Most intercity transit has their own law enforcement branch. Amtrak police are my favorite. I always imagine them on those pushcarts.

  20. rjhatl says:

    What kind of egregious case of turnstile-jumping ranks a SWAT team? Don't we have real cops for that?

    Yes, but there are big pots of federal $$$ free for the taking to do stupid things like that in the name of homeland security. Next time you're drinking some water on a train that's clearly marked "NO FOOD OR DRINK", you'll know where those flash grenades came from.

  21. megabytemike says:

    Strangely, I came across this before, after stumbling upon the fact they have a canine division. It comes down to jurisdictions. As taken from their website:

    In 1969, three years before BART opened for revenue service, the transit district's board of directors recommended that local police and sheriff's departments patrol the stations, trains, rights-of-way, and other BART-owned properties that were within their respective jurisdictions. The police chiefs and sheriffs, forecasting that BART's proposal would create jurisdictional disputes and inconsistent levels of police service, rejected the board's proposal. As a result, legislation was passed to form an autonomous law enforcement agency, the BART Police Department.

    As for why they have a SWAT team. Many city SWAT teams lack the tactical training for the tunnel ways, breaching BART trains, and simple "access," to BART resources (tunnel serviceways, etc). If it weren't for the jurisdictional separation, I'm sure every police district's SWAT would be trained for BART entry. Again also from their site:

    Team members train on scenarios which include situations on-board trains within tunnels, on elevated trackways, or in stations. In addition to situations unique to the BART system, the department's SWAT Team is also utilized to make "high-risk entries" pursuant to warrants obtained by the department. When crimes occur within the BART system which lead to the issuance of arrest or search warrants, an evaluation is done to determine if the service of the warrant will present a risk to officers or the public. In cases where there is a high potential for violence, the SWAT Team is utilized for the initial entry.

    • That is interesting. However BART does not have its own fire department, relying instead on the local FDs in each jurisdiction. I wonder why that is considered acceptable but local policing is not.

      • megabytemike says:

        Probably for the same reason why firefighters will travel to other counties to fight forest fires and such. I think their funding is less tied up.

      • terpsichoros says:

        Because you don't have to haul the burnt trees into court later, where they can appeal on jurisdictional grounds.

        (And probably because one part of SOP in case of fire is to stop trains, so there isn't much likelihood of fires spreading across jurisdictional lines.)

  22. decibel45 says:

    If the train goes below 55MPH it will explode!

  23. aimees says:

    WOW they have a BART SWAT team?!?! Crazy.

    BART police always amuse me when I see them driving around. Hehe.