AZ: Phoenix Police Lieutenant Honored with Statewide Transit Award

Lieutenant Adrian Ruiz of the Phoenix Police Department was recognized by the Arizona Transit Association (AzTA) and Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) with the 2013 Excellence Award for outstanding transit individual at the annual AzTA/ADOT Excellence Awards Luncheon in April. Ruiz has been detailed to the police’s transit enforcement unit, which is assigned to the Phoenix Public Transit Department, since 2006.

The outstanding transit individual award “recognizes an individual that has provided outstanding leadership and/or contributions to public transportation programs to the transit industry, to a jurisdiction or municipality, or to the private sector to improve the quality of transit service.”

"For years Lieutenant Ruiz has been a dedicated advocate for the security of transit passengers," said Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia. “Her knowledge of all aspects of bus and light rail operations, and her contribution to the safety of them, have made a real difference and are valued by Phoenix police, the public transit department, and the traveling public."

Ruiz spearheaded the formation of the regional transit security working group, creating a regional cohesion when applying for federal transit security grants and reinforcing mutual aid agreements. One of the group’s many successes was securing a Department of Homeland Security grant which resulted in a three-weekend emergency response drill named Operation Precious Cargo. Ruiz led hundreds of police officers and firefighters through a mock emergency situation on the Metro light rail, which helped public safety personnel understand how to use emergency response techniques in a light rail crisis and the importance of being transit-knowledgeable in those situations.

Ruiz also was recognized for understanding public transit from a passenger’s perspective. She created the operation surface-transportation top offender program (S.T.O.P.), which takes a tough but compassionate approach to identify chronic offenders on the public transit system whose behavior can be a detriment to a passenger’s feeling of safety and comfort. The program targets repeat offenders for a process that connects them to court-ordered social services, with the rationale that arresting individuals alone doesn’t solve problems for them or others, while substance abuse, mental health intervention and the travel restrictions imposed on these individuals may have a better chance at doing so.