Transit Police

RTD Police Department reaches 76 officers with 17 police academy graduates in May

Tara Broghammer

DENVER (June 3, 2024) –– The Regional Transportation District (RTD) Transit Police Department (RTD-PD) is announcing the addition of 17 new officers after a series of three graduations from local police academies in May. With the recent graduates, RTD is gaining momentum in achieving its goal of reaching a minimum of 119 officers by yearend with 76 sworn officers now on the force.

RTD Deputy Chief Steven Martingano gave the keynote address during the May 13 police academy graduation ceremony at Red Rocks Community College and told the graduates, “You have extended your immediate family by over 708,000, the number of full-time police officers throughout the United States. Every day, every call, and every decision you make will affect each and every one of them. These 708,000 officers will be directly judged if you take a wrongful action, or they will be praised if you conduct yourself in a professional manner. As you carry your duties with honor, integrity and dedication, know that you have hundreds of thousands of people who support you, and that you will never stand alone.”

In August 2019, RTD-PD was comprised of 19 officers. Since then, RTD has shifted from contracted security personnel to directly employing sworn officers. With increased staffing, on May 5, RTD-PD expanded to 24/7 patrolling by a dedicated team of officers working an overnight shift to bolster security where needed across the agency’s service area.

RTD-PD officer Alan Banich, who graduated May 13 from the Red Rocks Community College police academy where he was also class president said, “It’s exciting to be part of the phenomenal and quick growth of the RTD-PD, which is only going to benefit the community that we serve. We’re spread out across the district providing law enforcement to the community that we’ve been without far too long. We can extend patrolling to places like Nederland, Thornton and Parker while still having coverage in downtown Denver. I believe strongly it will help our customers and the community at large.”

Growing the force is one of RTD’s ongoing strategies for creating a welcoming transit environment through reducing criminal activity and improving the personal safety and security of customers and employees. More officers on the RTD-PD also increases the ability to be a regular presence on buses and trains and at stops and stations.

To deploy officers more strategically, the department is also using a sector-approach to patrolling. An RTD-PD sector commander is assigned to each of the five sectors across the 2,342-square-mile district. Property owners, business owners, municipalities and customers may directly contact their respective commander to address chronic, non-emergency areas of concern.

RTD also employs Crime Prevention through Environmental Design to deter criminal activities through changes in a location. As an example, the agency’s elevator pilot program is currently underway at three light rail stations. Elevator doors are programmed to remain in the open position while resting to deter illicit activity. The three-month pilot will conclude mid-June with a final report. Preliminary findings suggest that the program is successful in reducing illegal activity, and RTD will explore plans to expand the program to dozens of additional elevator locations across its system. In the past year, RTD has also upgraded lighting at stops and stations and installed TV monitors that display security feeds across the service area.

In January 2019, RTD became the first transit agency in the country to have a contracted mental health clinician work alongside its Transit Police. This effort helps address the occurrence of individuals experiencing a mental health issue that might otherwise be interpreted as criminal behavior. In January 2022, RTD added a homeless outreach coordinator to work across the service area and share resources with those experiencing homelessness. RTD is currently hiring for additional community outreach staff to staff six mental health clinicians and five homeless outreach coordinators by yearend to partner with RTD-PD. The outreach program has fostered agency relationships to increase customer access to important resources in the RTD service area and help keep services running smoothly.

The agency also has a K-9 unit and plans to add three more K-9s later this year to aid in patrolling and securing buses, trains and stations to make vehicles and facilities safer. Transit Police also partner regularly with law enforcement agencies in the more than 40 municipalities across RTD’s service area to address crime-related activity.

Customers are encouraged to be RTD’s partners in safety by downloading and using the Transit Watch app, available in English and Spanish, to report suspicious or illicit activity discretely or anonymously 24/7. The app is available in Apple and Android versions. Customers without smart phones or the app may call Transit Watch dispatch directly at 303-299-2911 or text 303-434-9100.

By Tara Broghammer