OAKLAND —The BART board pledged Thursday that it was committed to making sweeping changes in its transit police department's training, procedures and organization in the wake of an officer's fatal Jan. 1 shooting of an unarmed train rider.

In a special meeting, the nine elected transit board members said they would develop an action plan to carry out recommendations in a 300-page top-to-bottom audit of the police force by the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement executives, also known as NOBLE. The board paid $127,000 for the review.

"We need a plan of action. We aren't going to set this on a shelf," said Carole Ward Allen, a BART board member. She represents the district that includes the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, where Oscar Grant III was shot by then-BART Officer Johannes Mehserle, who later resigned. He has been charged with murder.

"All the board members are committing to this," Allen told the audience of about 50 people, including many critics of BART's investigation of the Grant shooting. The board agreed that its public safety committee would oversee BART's efforts to carry out recommended changes in 14 areas. They range from tracking officers' use of force to reorganizing upper management so that two police commander jobs closest to the chief are no longer unionized positions.

"We need to recalibrate the mission of the BART (public safety) committee," said Joel Keller, a BART board member from Brentwood.

While the board may not agree with every single one of many recommendations in the NOBLE report, it is committed to carrying the advice or explaining why it disagrees with particular measures, Keller said.

One rift was apparent Thursday. Board members and some audience members said they disagreed with a NOBLE recommendation that the elected transit board stay out of police discipline decisions made by the BART police chief and general manger.

"The buck has to stop with you," Alphonso Galloway, an Oakland native, told the board. "Appeals have to go above the general manager."

Under a BART board plan that needs approval from the state Legislature, the transit system would set up a civilian board to look into complaints of police abuse or excessive force, and the board would have the final say on discipline.

In its report, NOBLE said having politicians rule on police discipline invites political meddling on personnel issues best left to professional administrators.

In the draft report, the auditors recommend that the department "needs to establish a train patrol strategy to ensure that offices are riding trains on a regular basis."

In a survey deep in the 300-page audit, BART police department employees said they believed they were not adequately trained, and given direction and clear performance goals — hindering their effectiveness.

"Everyone does their own thing because there is no direction," one employee told the auditors. Another department employee said, "No more should people be allowed or told to do nothing."

BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger said the police force already has beefed up officer training and taken or started several other measures to improve the police force procedures and monitoring.

In response to criticism that it was left up to BART officers to report cases where they kicked, punch or elbowed people, Dugger said that all instances of force will be reported and reviewed by the department's chain of command and its internal affairs section.

Reach Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Read the Capricious Commuter blog at www.ibabuzz.com/transportation.