New BART Train

New BART Train (Photo credit: BART)

Passengers Question Why Armed Federal Agents Are On BART

KCBS Radio Morning News
September 28, 2018 - 8:39 am

BART passengers were surprised this week to see armed officers in bulletproof vests with Department of Homeland Security insignias patrolling trains and platforms. 

The officers from the Transportation Security Administration were partnering with BART police to prevent acts of terrorism, officials from the transit agency said. 

The sighting of the armed federal officers in a viral social media post initially panicked immigrants who feared authorities were hunting for people without proper documentation to be in the country. 

"I feel scared to be honest, because I'm an immigrant," said a man who declined to give his name to KCBS Radio. 

Although BART officials have said they will not cooperate with federal immigration authorities, suspicions about the agency's commitment to its "sanctuary" policy were recently raised. BART officials admitted that police had scanned thousands of license plates at the MacArthur station despite orders against it and uploaded that information to a database accessible by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. 

Other passengers expected the TSA to be an effective deterrent. 

"They're there to keep the threat away," said one rider. "If they're there, people wouldn't want to do anything."

Reported by Keith Menconi.