It was an interesting news day in Richmond. Much of the focus was on the assault yesterday morning by a group of Juveniles at The BART station on a man who just got off work and was heading for BART and home. For coverage, see:
NBC Bay Area
East Bay Times
The incident revealed a number of deficiencies in security emergency response, particularly pertaining to the BART Station.
Although we have been told that a 911 call from a cellphone will go to the closest police dispatch center, that doesn’t appear to be the reality. Because I was skeptical, I used the direct line 510-233-1214 to call RPD dispatch. Unfortunately, that puts you into a voice mail hell lasting over a minute with a dizzying number of choices. The first thing they tell you is dial “0” for Spanish, then later they tell you to dial “0” for Richmond Police. If you don’t believe me, try it.
In frustration, I abandoned 510-233-1214 and dialed 911. Whoever took that call asked me some questions and then routed me to BART Dispatch, which started all over again. I spent at least three minutes just trying to convey a message to dispatchers.
Richmond RPD should have been the first responders, but they weren’t.
What I learned from this is that both Richmond Police Department and BART have some work to do:
- Richmond PD needs to review its protocol for use of the 510-233-1214 line
- Richmond PD and the California Highway Patrol need to figure out how to handle cell phone calls, which are probably the predominant means of communication these days.
- Richmond PD and BART need to figure out who has responsibility for what, and more importantly, inform the public. There are no property boundaries drawn on the plaza telling people what agency owns what and no signs to tell people who to call in case of emergency.
- BART needs to provide some kind of continuous security presence at the Richmond Station.
- The BART Station Agent needs to be present in the kiosk for questions and assistance.
- BART needs to get an “all hands on deck” culture. I observed and photographed two BART employees parked a few feet away in a pickup with their windows rolled up while and after the assault occurred and was broken up by a brave woman while they chilled.
BART makes a big deal about not owning the exact spot where the assault took place. I don’t know who actually owns the actual spot where it happened, but I don’t think that is the issue. The public perceives this whole area as part of the BART station. The adjacent parking garage has a BART sign on it, The bus/taxi/drop off area was built by BART. And BART signs are all over the place.
BART built all of the infrastructure, and a BART story from 2015 states: “The BART Board of Directors awarded a contract today to reconstruct and make safety improvements to the area outside the Richmond Station where buses, taxis, and cars drop off and picked up riders. The $2.7 million project will modernize the existing lot on the west side of the station and provide for a safer and more functional multi-modal transit hub with sustainable features like energy efficient LED lighting and drought resistant landscaping…Passengers will benefit from better lit and more visible pedestrian paths leading to and from the station, and a new pathway specially designed for those who are physically impaired with a ramp and tactile surface. Other improvements aimed at keeping the flow of traffic manageable and safe for pedestrians include a new drop-off and pick-up lane, a new designated taxi area, and more effective operational space for buses with electronic displays showing real time bus departures at new bus shelters.”
Another BART story states, “The next time you visit Richmond Station, take a moment from looking at your mobile phone to stop and smell the mossy, sweet aroma of the white lantana flowers. If you have to wait for the bus in the newly landscaped terminal area, cool off in the shade of a Western redbud tree and let it shower you with pink blossoms. Marvel at the transformation still underway of a station that may previously have been known -- fairly or unfairly -- as an unattractive, less-than-safe one. Today, it is a jewel in the BART system whose features are an example of a sustainable transit-oriented community guiding future BART projects around the Bay Area.”
Wow, who knew?