BART’s push to reinvent its police force: Doubling down on social workers, unarmed Ambassadors

At first glance, many riders assume Frank Dan and Brandon Fenwick are police officers: They walk through train cars and station platforms dressed in matching blue and black uniforms, with BART logo hats and duty belts around their waists. But instead of a gun, Taser or baton, as BART Police Ambassadors, Dan and Fenwick carry a radio, flashlight and pouch for the anti-overdose medication Narcan.

Almost a year after new teams of Ambassadors began patrolling the system, BART is going further in pursuing efforts to respond to problems of drug abuse, homelessness and mental illness with unarmed civilian employees instead of traditional law enforcement officers.

In addition to the Ambassadors, the agency plans to double the size of a just-created team of Crisis Intervention Specialists — civilians with a background in social work who would respond to calls involving people with suspected mental health issues.

OAKLAND, CA – JANUARY 13: BART ambassador Frank Dan, left, hands a mask to a passenger as he and Brandon Fenwick ride a train from Oakland to San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. The ambassadors are unarmed civilian employees of the police department who help keep riders safe aboard trains. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

OAKLAND, CA – JANUARY 13: BART ambassadors Brandon Fenwick and Frank Dan, from right, walk the platform at the Lake Merritt Station in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. The ambassadors are unarmed civilian employees of the police department who help keep riders safe aboard trains. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

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OAKLAND, CA – JANUARY 13: BART ambassador Romero Dontaye talks with a homeless man as he rides a train from Oakland to San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. The ambassadors are unarmed civilian employees of the police department who help keep riders safe aboard trains. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JANUARY 13: BART ambassadors Frank Dan and Brandon Fenwick, from left, walk the platform at the Embarcadero station in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. The ambassadors are unarmed civilian employees of the police department who help keep riders safe aboard trains. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JANUARY 13: BART ambassadors Frank Dan and Brandon Fenwick, from left, exit a train at the Embarcadero station in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. The ambassadors are unarmed civilian employees of the police department who help keep riders safe aboard trains. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JANUARY 13: BART ambassadors Frank Dan and Brandon Fenwick, from right, walk the platform at the Montgomery station in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. The ambassadors are unarmed civilian employees of the police department who help keep riders safe aboard trains. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

OAKLAND, CA – JANUARY 13: BART ambassador Frank Dan and Brandon Fenwick, from left, pass a man who they asked to put his mask …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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