BART Director Carol Ward Allen says the transit agency will hold a public hearing Dec. 17 to get input from the public on the criteria they think should be used in hiring a new police chief. Ward Allen, who chairs BART’s Police Department Review Committee, said at Thursday’s board meeting that Bob Murray and Associates of Roseville is helping BART search for a new chief.The consulting firm also helped in San Francisco’s search for a new police chief, a process that resulted in the hiring of George Gascon. Current BART police Chief Gary Gee, who was criticized for his handling of the transit agency’s Police Department in the wake of the fatal shooting of unarmed passenger Oscar Grant III at the hands of former Officer Johannes Mehserle on Jan. 1, announced in August that he would retire at the end of the year. Gee then immediately went on medical leave. BART’s Police Department is currently headed by Commander Maria White, who is now acting chief. BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger said at the meeting that, “One question very much under discussion is strengthening the role of the board in the selection process.” Current rules call for Dugger to hire the new chief, but several board members have said recently that they think the board should be more involved. The recruitment process for a new police chief is scheduled to end Feb. 1. Bob Murray and Associates is to submit its recommended finalists for the job the week of March 1 and BART will conduct interviews later that month. The selection is scheduled to be made the week of March 29 and the new chief is to start work April 26. The public hearing will be at the Joseph Bort MetroCenter at 101 Eighth St. in Oakland at 6 p.m. on Dec. 17. Ward Allen said the purpose of the hearing is to give the public a chance to discuss “the issues and challenges for the new chief.” Copyright © 2009 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.