Denver RTD to add police officers, K-9s to agency to help with safety efforts

June 6, 2024
The agency has added 17 new officers to the police department and will be adding three new K-9s to the force.

The Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) has progressed efforts to improve safety for its riders, including the addition of 17 new officers to the Denver RTD Police Department (PD), as well as the addition of three new K-9s to the force.  

New officers 

The addition of new officers comes after a series of three graduations from local police academies in May. With the recent graduates, Denver RTD currently has 76 sworn officers on the force and has a goal of reaching a minimum of 119 officers by the end of 2024.  

“You have extended your immediate family by over 708,000, the number of full-time police officers throughout the United States,” said Denver RTD Deputy Chief Steven Martingano during the keynote address during the May 13 police academy graduation ceremony at Red Rocks Community College. “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, the Denver RTD PD was comprised of 19 officers. Since then, the agency notes it has shifted from contracted security personnel to directly employing sworn officers. With increased staffing, on May 5, Denver 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. 

 “It’s exciting to be part of the phenomenal and quick growth of the [Denver] 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,” said Denver RTD PD Officer Alan Banich, who graduated May 13 from the academy, where he was also class president.  

To deploy officers more strategically, Denver RTD says 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. 


The addition of three K-9s to the Denver RTD is being funded through a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Denver RTD notes K-9s aid in patrolling and securing buses, trains and stations to make vehicles and facilities safer. 

The agency says K-9s are invaluable partners for the agency and police officers, sweeping stations and patrolling trains and buses to identify dangerous or illicit materials, including homemade to military-grade explosives. K-9s can travel with their handlers anywhere across the agency to perform their work.  

“The additional K-9s are going to have a huge impact on trains, buses and stations. It’s going to reduce crime in the areas we visit,” said Denver RTD PD Officer Corey Averill, who handles K-9 Milo, the only current K-9 with Denver RTD. “Even with working only with Milo, the quality of the work he does has blown me away.” 

Averill says the natural work ethic of Milo’s breed – a Belgian Malinois from a bloodline bred specifically for K-9 policing – is what makes him the right type of dog to assist police officers across the country, but especially on transit. 

“The transit environment requires K-9s to nonstop get on trains, check around. They’re very hard-working dogs,” Averill said. “You want the dog that drives people nuts at home where you think: ‘I cannot take this dog.’ That makes a good working dog. The higher-drive dog you get, it lives to do this.” 

Denver RTD notes training for K-9s never stops. K-9s complete 10 weeks of training that includes imprinting with odor detection and patterning, which is checking all four corners of an area while patrolling. K-9s also participate in weekly training throughout their service to maintain the credibility of their ability to perform work in the field. The dogs also recertify with their handlers annually. 

“An excellent K-9 handler is someone who is also driven, with a lot of energy to match the dog’s energy with an equal dose of patience,” Averill said. “To see them in action when you go out on the trains and buses, it's incredibly rewarding, especially that bond that you get with the dog.” 

Averill notes the bond between a police officer and their K-9 is incredibly strong.  

“It's definitely a stronger bond than you're going to get with your house pet because I literally spend more time with this dog than I do my wife because I'm with him at work for 40 hours and then I go home and I spend my weekend with him too,” Averill said.  

About the Author

Brandon Lewis | Associate Editor

Brandon Lewis is a recent graduate of Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lewis is a former freelance editorial assistant at Vehicle Service in Endeavor Business Media’s Vehicle Repair Group. Lewis brings his knowledge of web managing, copyediting and SEO practices to Mass Transit Magazine as an associate editor.