BART pledges upgrades for ‘decoy’ cameras

BART has committed to using working cameras on all train cars following the public revelation last week that the transit agency was using decoy cameras as a deterrent.

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost declined to say how many train cars had working cameras and how many had decoys, citing security concerns because the decoys are only effective if would-be criminals think the cameras are potentially real.

Trost said:

“That was our system for many years.”

So far there is no timeline or cost estimate for equipping all trains with working cameras. Trost said:

“We are working as quickly as possible. … We heard the public loud and clear that they were unhappy to hear that we were using decoys.”

The agency’s use of decoys was revealed after a fatal shooting on a train on Jan. 9. At 7:45 p.m., 19-year-old Carlos Misael Funez-Romero of Antioch was shot and killed on a San Francisco-bound train as it pulled into the West Oakland station.

The suspect then fled from the station into the neighborhood. In the course of the investigation, police released surveillance photos of the man leaving the West Oakland station but did not release photos from inside the train car.

Media reports revealed last week that some of the cameras in the system were decoys.

Trost said in a statement:

“Staff is already working on funding options, a procurement plan, and a deployment strategy. … The safety of our riders and employees is our top priority.”

The plan might need approval by the BART Board of Directors, depending on the cost. The board received a report on the shooting from General Manager Grace Crunican during its meeting Thursday but she did not discuss the lack of cameras, only saying that she may be bringing recommended security improvements to the board in the coming weeks or months.

The shooting suspect remains at large. Police describe him as a black man in his late 20s to early 30s who is about 6 feet 2 inches tall with a skinny build, broad shoulders and a scruffy face. He was wearing a long green trench coat over a dark hooded sweatshirt with its hood up, dark pants, a dark backpack and was armed with a black semi-automatic handgun.

Anyone with information about the shooting has been asked to call BART police at (510) 464-7040 or call (510) 464-7011 to make an anonymous tip.