With the jury in Los Angeles resuming deliberations tomorrow in the Johannes Mehserle trial, local agencies are making sure they're prepared for any civil unrest following the announcement of the verdict.
BART is providing guidance and information to its ridership in the event problems occur at any BART stations, including the Dublin/Pleasanton station. Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti also said that his city is prepared in the event of any local unrest.
"While it is not anticipated that civil unrest will occur in Dublin, the city's police and fire Services have planned and prepared for this possibility and are coordinating with public safety agencies throughout the Bay Area for mutual aid requests, should it be necessary," Sbranti said.
According to BART, depending on public reaction, some stations may need to close temporarily or adjustments to service may be made on short notice. BART Police and Operations staff are closely working with other local law enforcement agencies to coordinate plans.
BART board president James Fang cancelled a tentatively scheduled news conference Friday afternoon after the jury recessed from its deliberations for the three-day Independence Day holiday weekend. Deliberations are scheduled to beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Fang said that the press conference was "intended to express our deep pride and love for the city of Oakland and the Bay Area community and to join with community leaders and city officials to call for calm and peaceful response to the upcoming verdict in the Johannes Mehserle trial."
In a statement, Fang said:
"Whatever the verdict, those of us who live and work in Oakland and who love this city must direct our energies and our emotion into constructive actions for change and progress.
We must respect the small business owners in the Bay Area, and in Oakland in particular, who are working hard to make a living in these difficult economic times. Neither, BART, the city of Oakland, its residents or its businesses have control over the outcome of the People versus Mehserle trial.
While we respect the judicial process, I personally would have liked to have seen African-Americans seated on jury and I am deeply disappointed that there are none.
While we cannot control the outcome of the trial, we can change BART's future. As a result of this tragedy, BART has taken an extremely hard look at its police department and the way we interact with the people we serve. Through hard work and especially community input, we have made progress and changes that better reflect our charge to serve the community.
Some of the changes we have already made include:
• Reforming the police Use of Force policy so that now any use of force will be reviewed;
• Increasing the amount and diversity of police training;
• Working to establish citizen oversight of the BART Police Department. In fact, a bill to establish citizen oversight was unanimously passed by the BART board, the state Assembly and Senate;
• Hiring a new Chief of Police, Kenton Rainey, who has a strong record of accomplishment in community oriented policing.
We have faced many challenges in the past 18 months to rebuild public trust. While we cannot change the events of Jan. 1, 2009, we are continuing to fulfill our commitment to make the changes required to ensure the BART Police Department lives up to the high standard our customers and the Bay Area deserve."
For more information on BART's preparations, please visit www.bart.gov for updates.