BART will turn over its internal affairs investigation to an independent, third party to investigate the actions of all the officers involved in the events leading up to the shooting death of Oscar Grant the morning of New Year's Day on the Fruitvale Station platform.
"It's imperative that we determine whether the actions of those officers on the platform violated the policies and practices of the BART Police Department," BART Board Member Carole Ward Allen said. Ward Allen chairs the newly formed Board of Directors BART Police Department Review Committee. "A lot of people have said they have no faith that the BART Police Department can police itself. By authorizing an independent, outside investigation, we hope to reassure the public that we are transparent and accountable."
"While we have every confidence in the capabilities of our BART Police Department to investigate its own officers, we believe that handing off this investigation to an independent third party will assure the public that we take this investigation extremely seriously and its outcome will be credible," BART Board Member Joel Keller said. Keller is the Vice Chair of the BART Police Department Review Committee. "The BART Police Department and the agency need to rebuild trust with the public and one way to do that is to hand this off to a third party and let the facts take us wherever they go," he said.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CRIMINAL & INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS
There are two investigations taking place. The focus of this news release is on the internal affairs investigation. This investigation looks into whether the actions of any officer on the platform violated BART Police policies and procedures. The results of an internal affairs investigation can lead to changes in policies and procedures, retraining or disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
The other investigation is the criminal investigation. Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff is using the evidence that BART Police turned over to him on January 12 to charge former officer Johannes Mehserle with murder. The District Attorney also used evidence from his separate, independent investigation as well as the Oakland Police Department's investigation to determine the murder charge.
BART's role in the criminal investigation is on-going and will include the examination of physical force used to restrain the individuals on the platform. BART Police will turn over that information to the District Attorney and he will decide if an officer's action warrants criminal prosecution.
TOP TO BOTTOM, INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF BART POLICE
In addition to turning over the internal affairs investigation to an independent third party, the BART Police Department Review Committee will also engage the best experts we can in the field of law enforcement to conduct a top to bottom review of all BART Police policies and procedures. These independent experts will also:
- Examine recruitment, hiring & training
- Review all police policies & procedures
- Identify best practices
- Recommend changes
BART has not yet determined which entities will conduct the outside, independent internal affairs review or the independent expert top-to-bottom review of departmental policies and procedures.
"Whatever consultants we choose, they will include local experts who know and reflect this community and who understand the deep rooted concerns minorities in my district have about police profiling and brutality," Ward Allen. "My committee's goal is to make sure what happened on New Year's Day never happens again."