OAKLAND -- BART is bringing in a retired police chief to assess its progress on transit police reforms recommended after the 2009 fatal police shooting of Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale BART station.
The audit will be conducted by Patrick Oliver, an Ohio-based criminal justice consultant and former police chief of Cleveland, Ohio. Oliver headed the outside audit of BART's police department following the widely publicized shooting.
"This will be a good check up," BART police Chief Kenton Rainey said Wednesday. "I think we've made tremendous progress. But that's my viewpoint. I want Chief Oliver to look into some key areas and tell us how we're doing."
BART police training, use of force, management structure and internal affairs procedures were sharply criticized after the shooting of Grant was captured by a passenger's video and shown around the world.
Then BART transit officer Johannes Mehserle, who is white, shot the unarmed black passenger in the back as Grant lay on the ground at the Fruitvale BART station early in the morning of Jan. 1, 2009.
BART police had pulled Grant off a New Year's Eve train to investigate reports of a fight between passengers.
Mehserle testified in his defense that he mistook his Taser for his gun. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served less than two years in jail.
In the shooting aftermath, the National Organization of Black Police Executives was hired by BART to review its policies and recommended more than 100 changes in training, management structure, citizen complaints, internal affairs and other areas.
Oliver will examine those recommendations in a $25,000 audit expected to be finished and made public in the fall.
John Burris, an Oakland attorney who represented Grant's family, said he was pleased BART is doing an outside review.
"This is a way to keep them on the straight and narrow," Burris said. "It's one thing to have new policies. It's another to carry them out."
Cephus Johnson, the uncle of Grant, also said he was encouraged that the BART police chief sought an outside report that will be aired publicly.
Johnson, however, was skeptical about the timing of BART's announcing the audit shortly before the release of the movie "Fruitvale Station" about the final days of Grant's life.
The movie will be shown in a private screening for actors and special guests in Oakland's Grand Lake Theater on Thursday and will open in theaters July 12.
"We know that everything BART does about Oscar has a lot do with public relations," Johnson said.
Rainey said he sought the study because he started the BART job about three years ago with a mandate for change, and three years is a good time to reassess changes at a police department.
Rainey said he trusts Oliver to do a thorough job. Oliver works as director of the criminal justice program for Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio.
Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff.