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WMATA taps first female police chief, appoints chief engineer

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority May 20 chose Polly Hanson, a 21-year veteran of Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD), to serve as the agency’s first woman chief of police.

Hanson, who also would be the second woman to head the police department of any major U.S. transit agency, will take the helm of the 357-sworn officer department July 1, succeeding Barry McDevitt, who retires June 30 after more than 27 years with MTPD.

"Chief Hanson has demonstrated over the years her ability to effectively lead officers in the direction which ensures a safe and secure transit environment, a strong partnership in community policing with our customers, and a visionary outlook which leads to the implementation of new and effective policing practices," said Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Richard White in a prepared statement.

Prior to joining WMATA in 1981, Hanson served as a civilian communications technician with U.S. Park Police. At MTPD, she rose through the ranks serving as sergeant, lieutenant and captain. In 1996, she was appointed deputy chief of MTPD’s Field Operations Bureau, where she oversees the safety of more than a million Metrobus and Metrorail customers, nearly 10,000 WMATA employees, and property and revenue in more than 1,500 square miles of patrol area.

Meanwhile, WMATA also named Patrick Porzillo chief engineer for the agency’s operations department.

Porzillo recently served Amtrak’s Mid-Atlantic Division as deputy division engineer where he was responsible for engineering and maintenance for electric traction, bridges and buildings, communications and signaling, and track. Prior engineering and management experience also includes a stint at Norfolk Southern Railway.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/22/2002