2013-2014 Commentary News Slider — 24 February 2014
Get guns off transit

BART Police should not carry deadly weapons

By Minnie Nguyen & Irene Benschop

The BART Police Department has been on the news lately as a result of its involvement in recent shootings. Many people are saying that BART officers should not carry guns. Ever since the shooting of Oscar Grant, a lot of people have felt anger and hatred towards BART officer Johannes Mehserle for his own mistake: Mehserle pulled out his gun, mistaking it for his stun gun (Taser) and shot Grant in the back of his torso, ending his life.

Citizens and passengers may see the BART officers as a negative reminder of what happened early morning on New Year’s Day on 2009, but they also fear their safety because they are unsure about where the gun is going to be pointed at or whom next.

Others disagree and state that the BART police are securing their safety by carrying loaded weapons but it is really the officers judgment that people should fear.

The BART police chief, Kenton Rainey, has stated that over the past three years, officers confiscated 75 guns and arrested 4,000 people on suspicion of committing crime. BART officers believe that the BART force has reformed itself since the day of Grant’s death and that they are keeping train passengers safe.

“BART officers are a necessity because we live in a society where the public does need protection,” said Robert Raburn, a member of BART’s District Board of Directors.”We have an exemplary force …we just can’t say, ‘Oh, we need to just dismantle everything.’”

If BART officers get rid of their guns, then maybe there will not be as much conflict concerning passengers and BART officers. Passengers will also feel less threatened by the BART officers. However, allowing BART officers to carry guns may also ensure the safety of the passengers and minimize potential threats. If the BART officers do have possession of guns, they will in most cases protect the passengers, but will also be seen as the danger in the passengers’ eyes.

We suggest that BART police should stop carrying guns in order to provide reassurance to the BART passengers. They should leave the crimes to the city police departments.

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