OAKLAND (CBS SF) — BART’s Board of Directors swore in Carlos Rojas as the new chief of the transit agency’s Police Department Thursday morning during their regular meeting in Oakland.
“I just want to thank you for this opportunity and this privilege to be the chief of the BART police,” Rojas said, shortly after posing for a photo with the board.
“I really view it as an honor to serve as a police chief in this capacity,” for the people who rely on BART for transportation, Rojas said.
Rojas served as chief of the Santa Ana Police Department for five years before coming to the Bay Area, and has 27 years of law enforcement experience as well as expertise in community-oriented policing practices and homeland security issues.
Rojas faces a long list of issues he will have to figure out, including concerns over the departments use of force policy, recent mob-type robberies and how to crack down on ticket cheats.
Fare jumpers are currently costing BART up to $25 million a year.
“We want to make sure that we have a strategy that is fair and equitable, but a strategy that accomplishes a goal that everyone pays a fair share,” said Rojas.
The new chief listened in as community members spoke at the BART Board meeting Thursday, advocating for changes to the use of force policy.
“We need the language minimum force in the policy and the principal of preservation of life,” said Cephus X. Johnson. His nephew was Oscar Grant– the unarmed black man killed at the Fruitvale BART station in 2009.
“I am hopeful. I believe the police chief has come in on a foundation of Chief Rainey to make progress to make reforms,” said Johnson.
Chief Rojas told KPIX 5 that building trust within the community is among his top priorities.
“I have to get out there and really connect with these various community groups so they get to know — not only myself as the police chief — but also BART as the professional organization that it is, said Rojas. And I think it’s important to continuously do outreach.”
He will be BART’s first Latino police chief, according to the transit agency.
Grace Crunican, BART’s general manager, announced the hire last month.
“The Police Department has been moving in the right direction, and I am confident that our new chief will accelerate our efforts to increase the visibility of police officers on our trains and in our stations,” Crunican said in a statement back in April.
The new chief also took a moment to recognize the agency’s civilian review board, thanking them for taking time to come in for the swearing-in ceremony.
TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.