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BART names new police chief to lead effort to restore rider security

BART’s new police chief, Kevin Franklin, stands inside its police headquarters in Oakland on Aug. 22, 2023. | Source: Jason Henry for The Standard

BART Interim Police Chief Kevin Franklin has been hired as chief, capping a season of change for the transit system.

In a statement Sunday, BART General Manager Bob Powers said the choice was the result of a collaborative search process between BART staff, an independent police auditor and a police citizen review board.

“Chief Franklin is a life-long BART rider with an intimate knowledge of the system and its police department,” Powers said in a statement.

He added that Franklin was an instrumental part of a strategy that has significantly increased the presence of uniformed police personnel on trains and in BART stations in a bid to restore a sense of public security and boost ridership.

Bay Area Rapid Transit Acting Police Chief Kevin Franklin works inside BART Police headquarters in Oakland on Aug. 22, 2023. | Source: Jason Henry for The Standard

Franklin, who served as the police department’s operations and support services chief and led its internal affairs division, managed BART’s security operations from 2011 to 2018 and worked as an instructor in various department training programs. He became interim chief after BART veteran Ed Alvarez stepped down as police chief in May.

The 27-year police department veteran was born in Oakland, where he began his career as an Oakland police officer. He graduated from the University of California Berkeley, before earning a master’s degree in criminal justice from California Coast University. He graduated from the FBI National Academy and the Police Executive Research Forum Senior Management Institute for Police.

At age 3, Franklin went with his family to BART’s opening day of service on Sept. 11, 1972, and rode an inaugural train from Lake Merritt Station in Oakland to Fremont and back.

READ MORE: BART Police Are Watching You

“A clean, safe, rider-focused BART is critical to the Bay Area economy and to the hundreds of thousands in our community who rely on our service every day,” Franklin said in a statement, adding that making sure “all our riders feel secure will be my first and last priority as Chief.”

Last month, BART announced plans to shift to shorter, six- and eight-car trains as part of a plan that includes a base schedule change intended to increase rider safety and train frequency. Riders have not been shy since then about voicing their frustration about the crowded, shorter trains.