Pubdate: Tue, 18 Dec 2001
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2001 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Gary Gee, Bart Chief Of Police


Why Sniff On BART?

Editor -- When BART runs to San Francisco International Airport, BART 
police will be interfacing with the U.S. Customs Service. As part of the 
liaison and training between law-enforcement agencies, a U.S. Customs 
drug-detection canine and its handler were teamed with BART officers. The 
pilot program, for three eight-hour shifts, provided orientation training 
and enabled officers from both agencies to learn how each other operates.

Deployment of the U.S. Customs dog on BART was similar to BART police 
canine teams patrolling stations and trains. The difference is that a 
canine trained to detect narcotics stops, sits and faces the person who is 
in possession of an illegal substance. It is a non-intrusive and passive 
method that has withstood legal challenges.

Detainees who were cited during the joint operation -- no pun intended -- 
were charged with a state infraction, not a federal crime. BART police 
never target anyone who has a verifiable identification as a medical 
marijuana user under Proposition 215.

One reader (Letters, Dec. 17) opined that persons "high" on drugs should 
rely on public transportation. While I agree that anyone under the 
influence should not drive, there are levels of "high" from drugs or alcohol.

The standard is whether a person can exercise self-care and provide for his 
or her own safety, as well as that of others. It is not merely whether he 
or she is "harmless." Police officers are trained to make that 
determination, not the canine.


BART chief of police
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