VIA Metropolitan Transit Police earned statewide recognition for their dedication to service, through compliance with more than 168 Texas law enforcement best practices criteria.

VIA’s Transit Police Department was one of only two departments in the state to receive the distinguished award from The Texas Police Chiefs Association, a voluntary recognition program to assist Texas agencies in meeting their professional obligations to the citizens of Texas.

“The men and women of the VIA Transit Police Department have shown their level of dedication and professionalism by working so diligently over the past two years to achieve this honor,” VIA Transit Police Chief Mark Witherell said. “Recognized status places our department on par with the other distinguished law enforcement agencies in Texas. I’m proud to lead this organization in our mission to protect the transit system.”

The program ensures an agency has addressed the most critical law enforcement issues in both policy and operations to assist in the efficient and effective delivery of service and the protection of individuals’ rights.

“This achievement further demonstrates VIA’s ongoing commitment to excellence and continuous improvement with the way we provide service to our customers, community and region,” VIA President/CEO Jeffrey C. Arndt said. “It also affirms our ongoing efforts to maintain the highest level of responsibility while providing safe and reliable public transportation services in the Greater San Antonio Region.”

An appointed committee of Texas Police Chiefs from across the State developed the best practices and conducted the final review and assessment of the agency’s efforts, and ultimately awarded the “Recognized” status.

The VIA Transit Police Department began the Best Practices formal process in June 2018. The process included a Chief’s orientation training, complete submission of all policies and procedures, site and facilities visits by compliance assessors, random ride-a-longs with patrol officers, personnel interviews, equipment audits, and a review of processes in support of meeting the 168 criteria of best practices.

Best practices recognition means that the police agency meets or exceeds all 168 identified best practices for Texas law enforcement. The best practices cover specific aspects of law enforcement operations, such as use of force, protection of citizen rights, property, evidence management, patrol, and investigative operations.

Out of the 2,705 Police agencies within the State of Texas, The VIA Metropolitan Transit Police Department is the 154th Police agency to achieve Recognized status, and one of only two current Transit Police Departments in the state. The other is Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). The Recognized status is awarded for a four-year period. During the four-year period the agency must submit an annual report and show continued compliance with performance standards and criteria.