Should BART have been faster to alert the public about the mob of 40+ teens who bum-rushed fare gates, stormed the platform, and roughed up and robbed a bunch of people at Coliseum Station on Saturday night? That's what the Chronicle is essentially saying, though according to BART spokesperson Alicia Trost, if the media had been looking, details of the incident were included in a daily police log sent out by email Sunday morning. BART could have sent out a wider alert, or discussed on Twitter the reason that the Dublin-bound train was held at the station for 15 minutes Saturday night, but they did not, and some are now suggesting that the incident was significant enough that it warranted a louder response from the rail service.
After the story broke late Monday, BART issued a statement saying, "Before all else, our hearts go out to the passengers who were victims of Saturday’s robbery, and extend our deepest sympathy and understanding to the employees and patrons who were shaken by these events," and they promised increased patrols and overtime for BART police, and said "we are working with allied agencies to bring the juveniles to justice."
But it is also concerning that passengers aboard the train where the robberies occurred didn't necessarily know what had happened either. Pleasanton resident Alyssa Hammonds tells the Chronicle that the train operator never made a clear announcement to the train, and though she saw a few people who looked "shaken" the incident didn't reach her car, and she didn't find out what had happened until the news reports came out Monday.
Former SF police chief Tony Ribera tells the Chronicle that public alerts are vital to catching suspects, and "The longer you wait, the less likely that is to happen."
Meanwhile, BART is still in the process of replacing broken and dummy surveillance cameras on all of its trains, something that they promised earlier this year would be complete by July. On Saturday, three of the train's nine cars had non-working cameras.
Ex BART Police Chief Gary Gee tells ABC7news, post a reward and catch those who took over the BART train and send a tough message! pic.twitter.com/3M9UkIn4s9— Vic Lee (@vicleeabc7) April 25, 2017
BART Police have yet to comment on the incident, which happened around 9:30 p.m. Saturday night, apparently as a nearby event was letting out that the group of teens had all been attending. Ex BART Police Chief Gary Gee tells ABC 7 that at current staffing levels, with 200 BART police on staff, it would have been very difficult to prevent a swarm robbery like this. "When you consider BART runs 50 to 60 trains at any given time, to have a police officer on every train and every station, that'd be prohibitive to do that. That's 100 officers right there," Gee says. He also suggests posting a reward for identifying those involved.
Meanwhile, BART station operators are now on high alert: The East Bay Times reports that a group of "three or four hoodie-wearing juveniles" who jumped fare gates Tuesday evening at Lake Merritt Station led a station agent to call for incoming trains to bypass the station altogether and when the fare-evaders saw that the trains weren't stopping, they fled before BART police could catch up to them.