OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – On Monday, BART riders got to meet representatives with the transit agency's new "ambassador" program that is aimed at improving security.
Clad in blue shirts and armed with a police radio and Narcan, the ambassadors the newest addition to the BART system.
One step above community service officers but not sworn BART police officers, these men and women will ride the trains and patrol the platforms in pairs on nights and weekends.
"We're gonna deploy them with different routes. We're gonna put them out on routes where they're gonna be on the most trains, the most platforms, so they're going to be visible," said BART Police Chief Ed Alvarez.
The ambassadors are part of a six-month pilot program intended to make BART riders feel safer.
"My experience on BART has been where seats have been dirty, [there's] trash; just homeless people, derelicts, transients -- just people that aren't clean," said BART Rider Terri Flemons. "So this is going to make it a lot more comfortable to ride BART."
The ambassadors are in addition to the 12 sworn BART police officers that already patrol the system on nights and weekends.
"Not only are we increasing the level of safety, but the folks on BART actually have someone to ask questions to," said BART Board President Lateefah Simon.
Last week, the ambassadors were trained in de-escalation techniques. Their radios will put them in direct contact with BART police dispatch in case they encounter a problem.
Lateefa Davis was a community service officer for BART for seven months before joining the first class of ambassadors.
"We can contribute to BART and ride the trains and be there for the patrons and the folks riding the trains. So I'm excited about doing this," said Davis.
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