The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is entangled in a new controversy only a week after the public lashed out at officials for refusing to release video footage of crimes over fears the videos would incite racism.

Recent reports indicate that BART has seen double the amount of rapes in the first six months of 2017 than all of 2016.

The Mercury News reported:

There were seven rapes reported on BART property from January through the end of June, compared to four in 2016, three in 2015 and two in 2014, according to BART police. At the same time, there has been a notable increase in the number of reported sexual assaults, with 28 in the first six months of the year. That’s the same number of sexual assaults reported during all of 2016, which was already up 75 percent from 2015, when only 16 sexual assault cases were reported.

The bump coincides with a 41 percent increase in violent crimes, including a 49 percent increase in robberies, for the first five months of the year compared with the same time period last year. At the same time, property crimes are also up 14 percent.

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/07/17/rapes-sexual-assaults-on-the-rise-on-bart/

Source: The Mercury News

BART police Chief Carlos Rojas told the media that sexual assaults have also risen on the transit system. From NBC Bay Area:

He said there has also been an increase in the number of reported sexual assaults, with 28 in the first six months of the year, which is the same number of sexual assaults reported during all of 2016, which was already up 75 percent from 2015 when only 16 sexual assault cases were reported.

Rojas said that although all of the reported rapes involved sexual violence, not all involved forced sexual intercourse, which is the traditional definition of rape.

Under federal crime reporting standards, sexual assaults with the intent to commit rape are reported as rapes, he said.

“One rape or sexual assault is too many,” Rojas said.

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/07/17/rapes-sexual-assaults-on-the-rise-on-bart/

Source The Mercury News

Rojas stated that authorities have not found connections between the rapes and sexual assaults. He noted that the reported “rapes occurred at seven stations, all but one in the East Bay – in the restrooms and stairwells, aboard trains and in parking lots.”

Steps to Combat Crime

Rojas believes “proactive policing” is a top solution to combat crimes. He said that he is “working on fast-tracking the hiring of more police officers to fill 40 vacancies in the department.”

NBC Bay Area reported that “the number of people applying to join the BART police force is near an all-time low.” The network continued:

“We do cover four counties so it’s an expansive system, but nevertheless crime is up and (we’re) looking at ways to mitigate that and hopefully eliminate it,” Rojas said.

Director Debora Allen, who represents Walnut Creek and surrounding cities in Contra Costa County, said after the meeting that 40 of the police officer positions that BART has budgeted for are unfilled.

“We should have more officers” because the transit system opened the new Warm Springs station in Fremont earlier this year and plans to open other new stations in the near future, Allen said.

“Not only do we have 40 vacant positions that are already budgeted for,” she continued, but BART “should have a lot more police officers than we have budgeted for.”

Speaking about a related topic, Allen said she’s glad that BART will resume sending out daily reports for felony crimes and will issue monthly crime reports to BART directors.