The Milpitas Transit Center, which contains the city’s BART station, is going to open — eventually. When it does, BART Police will have jurisdiction around the immediate station area. As for the rest of the surrounding area? It’s complicated…
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office already provides law enforcement services for VTA properties, which include the Milpitas and Berryessa BART stations.
But the sheriff and the VTA’s BART station contract expired on June 30. VTA has yet to award a new contract to a law enforcement agency, and instead negotiated a six-month extension with the sheriff.
But whatever happens after the six months is anyone’s guess.
Earlier this year, the VTA solicited bids for a new contract and multiple law enforcement agencies responded, according to Deputy Jessica Gabaldon, the sheriff’s public information officer.
Milpitas Police Chief Armando Corpuz saw VTA’s proposal request as an opportunity for the Milpitas Police Department (MPD) to step in and negotiate to win the contract, a move that received the city council’s blessing back in April.
A recommendation will be considered by the VTA’s Board of Directors sometime in November, after the body considers all the submitted proposals — including that of Milpitas, according to MPD Assistant Police Chief Kevin Moscuzza.
“There’s a benefit if we’re providing police services and working in that area,” said Moscuzza. “It would be easier for us to make adjustments.”
MPD has already made extensive plans in anticipation of the new transit center. The department has hired 93 additional personnel, including dozens of community service officers, to help with parking and other less hazardous functions.
That will free up more full-time officers to help with the large influx of people coming in and out of the city daily on BART.
The last few years have been challenging ones for BART. According to a grand jury report released in June, violent crime on the transit system, including robberies and aggravated assaults, has increased by 115 percent since 2014.
Perhaps uncoincidentally, BART ridership has gone down 8 percent during that period, and rider satisfaction plummeted from 86 percent in 2012 to 56 percent in 2018, according to the report. All the more reason, Moscuzza believes, to see Milpitas as best equipped in terms of dealing with potential crime in its transit center.
Said Moscuzza, “We can carve our deployment of officers to create an efficient and effective plan.”