Downtown Berkeley participates in National Night Out

Derek Remsburg/Senior Staff
Tuesday night's National Night Out featured live music performed outside the Downtown Berkeley BART Station.

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Berkeley residents who passed by the Downtown Berkeley BART Station Tuesday evening were treated to live music, 50-cent gelato and important BART safety tips as part of National Night Out.

BART police officers at several Bay Area stations — including Civic Center/UN Plaza in San Francisco, 12th Street/Oakland City Center, Hayward, Concord, North Berkeley and Millbrae — hosted the events.

The Downtown Berkeley event included a gathering of Berkeley residents, BART riders, police officers and city officials to discuss crime prevention and safety precautions people should take on BART.

Local stakeholders of private businesses and nonprofit organizations such as Lions Center for the Blind — which provides vision rehabilitation services and collaborates with the UC Berkeley School of Optometry to provide low-vision exams — had information tables at the BART stations as well.

Uniformed officers conducted bicycle theft prevention demonstrations and handed out flyers promoting escalator safety, emergency response and personal security tips.

Berkeley City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin attended the event at the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza and said he has been attending the event every year since his first term in office began in 2008.

“It was a great way to bring people together and have more positive use of BART plaza space,” Arreguin said. “It’s good for Downtown and for the community (to have these gatherings). It was good community experience.”

Arreguin also said he was able to interact with people in his district, such as the business owners and Berkeley Fire Department staff.

The event also featured gelato from Almare Gelato, a family-owned shop located by the downtown station.

During the event, BART staff communicated about precautions BART riders should take to prevent crimes that occur often, including theft of electronic devices and bicycles.

According to BART police spokesperson Era Jenkins, 55 reported snatch-and-grab thefts of electronic devices have taken place within the entire BART district this year from January through July.

“All we ask (of citizens) is to be our eyes and ears,” said BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey.

Rainey said the event allows police to partner with citizens in staving off criminal activities.

BART Community Services Officer Lauren Sugayan said the people who came up to the information booths at the BART stations enjoyed learning about safety measures.

“I think we spent a considerable amount of time speaking directly to them about preventing crime and how it needs to be an effort (with) everybody involved,” Sugayan said.

Sugayan also said it was nice to see her co-workers who participated smiling and interacting with passengers in different ways than when the officers are normally enforcing the law.