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BART unveils new geographical zone policing structure

New system breaks current zones down into smaller areas that police say will be easier to manage.

BART police officials Tuesday unveiled a new zone geographical structure that they believe will spark proactive problem-solving to reduce crime and social disorder.

Speaking at a news conference at police headquarters at the Lake Merritt BART station, Police Chief Kenton Rainey said creating the new

structure is one of the recommendations that the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives made following the fatal shooting of unarmed passenger Oscar Grant III at the hands of BART Officer Johannes Mehserle three years ago.

"We're very excited about the direction we're going in and believe it will result in more accountability for our officers," Rainey said.

Grant was fatally shot on the platform of the Fruitvale Station in Oakland on Jan. 1, 2009, by Mehserle, who claimed that he had meant to use a

Taser on Grant instead of his service gun. Mehserle was later convicted of

involuntary manslaughter for the shooting.

Deputy Police Chief Benson Fairow said the new structure breaks the current zones down into smaller areas that are easier to manage.

Fairow said the department used to have four patrol zones but it will now have five zones.

He said each zone will have a lieutenant supervising a team of patrol sergeants, police officers and community service officers who will be responsible and accountable for providing service to their areas at all times.

Fairow said BART police will use an enhanced form of community policing they call Community Oriented Policing Problem Solving, or COPPS.

He said it is a policing philosophy and management approach that promotes community, government, police partnerships and proactive

problem-solving.

The idea, Fairow said, is to create positive, productive relationships between the transit agency's police officers and its riders in order to make riders feel safer and promote greater job satisfaction for officers.

Rainey said he thinks "passengers will feel safer" because more police officers will be in BART's trains and stations.

Farrow said the new zones are: Zone I, which includes all Oakland Stations, Zone II, which includes all stations in Contra Costa County and

Berkeley, Zone III, which consists of all other stations in Alameda County, which includes the area from San Leandro to Dublin/Pleasanton, Zone IV, which consists of all San Francisco stations, and Zone V, which includes the stations in San Mateo County.

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

— Bay City News Service

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