OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — BART employees on Thursday talked to the transit agency’s board of directors about safety concerns, two days after a man was fatally stabbed on board a train.
It was the BART Board of Directors’ first meeting since that deadly stabbing. Workers used the public comment time to sound the alarm.
BART employees told KPIX 5 off camera that speaking at the meeting is the only way they feel their voices can be heard. One employee said it feels like they’re “under a constant gag order.”
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Suzanne Gamble is a new BART station agent whose rotation includes the South Hayward station where Oliver Williams was stabbed to death.
“And I’ve also indirectly witnessed someone’s like being taken. There are safety issues that I was not trained to handle,” said Gamble. “I don’t feel safe.”
BART’s Board of Directors held a moment of silence for Williams at the beginning of their meeting, but after that the message was loud and clear: BART employees want to feel safer while doing their job.
They also want passengers to feel that same level of security.
One suggestion came from train operator Michael Granat, who proposed that all “D-cars” be moved to the back of the train.
When passengers are in that type of car, they can’t pass through, forcing them to stay in that car, even during an emergency.
“When you’re being stabbed or attacked, having a camera there is not going to help you. Having access to getting away from the situation could help you,” said Granat.
On Tuesday, BART police say stabbing suspect Jermaine Brim allegedly tried to steal shoes off a sleeping BART passenger when Oliver Williams stepped in and tried to stop him.
Brim and Williams then fought before Brim allegedly stabbed the victim to death with his own knife.
At the same South Hayward station Wednesday night, a woman ran out of the station screaming that she had been robbed. There was no BART police officer in sight.
Despite BART reminding riders that they have hired a record-breaking 54 officers this year, so far there has not been a visibly increased security presence at any of the stations since the stabbing.
Brim is scheduled to be arraigned in Dublin at 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon.