Ed Alvarez, appointed Friday as BART's new police chief, had just finished telling a reporter about his top priorities for the transit agency and its police force.
"I want people to be safe," Alvarez said near the conclusion of a media event at Balboa Park Station. "That's my ultimate goal. I want people to be on our system, safe. So they're able to get to their destinations ... and not be worried about being accosted or anything like that."
To achieve that goal, the new chief announced he's assigning a dozen officers to patrol trains and station platforms on nights and weekends. That, along with a six-month pilot project approved by the agency's board of directors Thursday to deploy 10 uniformed but unarmed ambassadors to patrol trains every evening, is designed to improve security on the system with a more visible BART presence.
"My main goal is to create that presence to mitigate and to get everybody safely to where they need to be," Alvarez said.
But no sooner had Alvarez said that than he got a reminder of how far BART has to go to win over customers rattled by the crime, mental illness and aggressive behavior they sometimes encounter on the system.