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BART police chief steps down after 4 years

BART Interim Police Chief Ed Alvarez answers questions from the media after a ceremony swearing in three new officers at the BART Police Department headquarters in Downtown Oakland, on Aug. 28, 2019. | Jane Tyska/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

BART Police Chief Ed Alvarez has announced he is retiring after four years of helming the agency's police department.

Alvarez has spent more than 25 years at the department and was appointed as the official police chief in 2020 after a one-year interim period. His last day will be May 1, and he will be replaced by Deputy Chief Kevin Franklin as interim chief.

“I’m proud of all the work we’ve done as we’ve strived together to make BART PD one of the most progressive and community-oriented police departments in the nation,” Alvarez said in a statement.

When he was announced as BART's police chief, Alvarez said that some of his main priorities were filling officer vacancies and increasing the number of officers to more than 200. The agency's police force currently has around 170 sworn officers.

Alvarez, who was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. as a young child, grew up in Newark and joined the BART police department in 1998.

During his tenure, Alvarez launched the Bureau of Progressive Policing and Community Engagement, which includes transit ambassadors, crisis intervention specialists and other unarmed safety personnel.

In recognition of the growing issues around homelessness and public safety, as the agency seeks to recover from the pandemic, Alvarez doubled the police presence on trains last month.

Under Alvarez's tenure, the department has undergone reviews from the Office of the Independent Police Auditor and the state Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Enforcement Section. The department came under intense public scrutiny after the killing of Oscar Grant in 2009.

Among the reforms made under Alvarez was a prohibition on carotid control holds and the elimination of the use of the term “excited delirium” in any written reports.

The agency published a 2021 study on policing practices and said it hopes it makes BART “a model agency for progressive policing.”