OAKLAND (KCBS) – Bay Area Rapid Transit officials have launched a new app that will allow riders to report crimes to police without drawing undue attention to themselves.
It’s called BART Watch and is free and available for both Apple and Android users.
BART Spokeswoman Alicia Trost said they launched the app in response to years of requests from riders for a safe and discreet way to communicate with police.
“How it work is you’re on a train, something is going down, and you don’t want to draw attention to yourself by calling BART Police or going to that intercom at the end of the train,” Trost said. “So now you can get out your phone very quietly and send a message through this app.”
Riders can use the BART Watch app to send a text description of what they are seeing and/or attach a picture. Or, there is a “one tap” button that will connect them with BART Police by phone.
Trost said the message goes directly to BART Police dispatch, which can send follow-up questions in determining whether to send officers out.
BART Deputy Police Chief Ben Farrow said activities reported through BART Watch can include crimes in progress, robbery, theft, vandalism, unattended bags or packages, and even illegally parked vehicles.
“Another neat feature of the BART Watch app is the fact that we can send out alerts. Occasionally we have things like lost children or people with developmental issues,” Farrow said. “If they get lost on the system, we can send out alerts to our patrons to let them know to be on the lookout for this person.”
In March, the BART Board of Directors approved a multi-year contract with the app’s developer, ELERTS Corporation. The company is developing similar apps for other U.S. transit agencies, including the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.