Metro has tapped an insider to take over as police chief. On Tuesday, the transit agency announced it has chosen Deputy Chief Ronald Pavlik for the job. He will replace retiring Metro Transit Police Chief Michael Taborn.
"I was excited, somewhat surprised," said Pavlik of receiving the news.
The transit agency conducted a nationwide search for the job, led by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, but General Manager Richard Sarles decided to choose someone from within its own ranks.
Pavlik has been second in command for nearly three years, but now becomes Metro's top cop. He has been with the department for 18 years, starting as a patrol officer and working his way up to Deputy Chief of Patrol for nearly three years.
"I think it gives me an advantage because I know everybody here already,” Pavlik told FOX 5. “I have a great working relationship with a lot of the employees here at Metro already, whether it's the executive leadership team or the day-to-day employees. I think it gives me an advantage and gives the department an advantage.”
As the current Deputy Chief of Patrol, Pavlik oversaw 250 officers and staff. He will take over for Chief Taborn on April 1 when he retires at the end of the month after five years as chief.
The incoming chief knows the force is stretched thin, covering more than 100 miles of rail lines with 86 Metrorail stations plus thousands of miles of bus routes.
Recently, the transit system has been plagued with an increase in snatch-and-grab thefts of electronic devices and vandals attacking and damaging buses with rock throwing. As a veteran officer, Pavlik understands the challenges ahead.
"The biggest challenge will remain crime," he said. "Crime will be a top priority and how we combat crime. How we address crime trends and how we mitigate it."
Pavlik plans to continue with the high-intensity police efforts on buses and rail lines, in which uniformed and undercover officers focus on problem routes to combat crime. Those efforts will be bolstered by the addition of new police officers for buses, which was approved by the board in this year's budget. Given the manpower issues for such a large transit system, Pavlik also plans to continue working with local police departments, partnering to patrol around Metro stations and parking garages and along some bus routes.
"I think what you're going to see is maybe different deployment strategies, and again, we're going to let the trends dictate our deployment," he said.
In an e-mail to employees, Sarles praised Pavlik for his "experience" and "leadership" at the agency. Prior to joining Metro, Pavlik spent seven years in the United States Army, including a combat tour in Iraq, and was a graduate of the FBI Academy.
Special Message From the General Manager-March 19, 2013
I am pleased to announce the promotion of two senior leaders. Rob Troup is being appointed as Deputy General Manager of Operations effective immediately. Ron Pavlik will become the Chief of Police, when Chief Taborn retires at the end of this month.
It especially gives me great pleasure to be able to promote two of our own senior leaders, who have already made major contributions to improving WMATA's safety and security for our customers and employees.
Besides being talented and sharing a commitment to continually improve Metro, Rob and Ron also come to their leadership roles with very practical experience. Both rose through the ranks of their respective fields, with Rob starting as a track laborer and Ron as a patrol officer. This perspective and experience has already served WMATA well, but it also reflects the talent of the leadership team that Metro is building, as well as our continued commitment to developing strong leaders internally.
Rob brings 35 years of national and international design, construction and maintenance, railroad and transit experience to his new position. In 2010, he joined WMATA as Chief of Infrastructure Services, and subsequently, became the Assistant General Manager of Transit Infrastructure and Engineering Services, where he has led the rail infrastructure rebuilding work and the authority-wide capital investment program. Earlier this month, he was appointed Acting Deputy General Manager of Operations (DGMO), succeeding the previous DGMO David Kubicek.
Beginning his career as a track laborer with Amtrak, Rob went on to oversee project and construction support for track, electric traction, signals and communications of Amtrak's New York Metropolitan region. Following his 15-year career with Amtrak, Rob provided consulting and systems support for most the nation's northeast commuter and transits systems, as well international properties in the United Kingdom and Egypt. Rob is a member of the Institute of Railway Signal Engineers.
Currently serving as the Deputy Chief for Patrol, Ron joined WMATA in 1995 as a patrol officer, after serving over seven years in the United States Army, where he served multiple overseas tours including a combat tour during Desert Storm.
Over the last 18 years, Chief Pavlik has worked his way up through the ranks at WMATA serving as a Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain and most recently, as Deputy Chief of Patrol. He also served in a number of assignments in Patrol, Administration and the Executive Office of the Chief. As Deputy Chief of Patrol, Ron oversees the deployment of over 250 staff members and officers.
In addition to being a graduate of the FBI Academy, Ron has a Master's and a Bachelor's degree in Management from the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, as well as a certificate in Leadership in Police Organizations from the International Association of Chiefs of Police School.
Chief Pavlik was selected following a national search led by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) that involved an extensive evaluation of candidates' technical knowledge, management skills and leadership qualities.
I ask that you join me in congratulating our colleagues and extending your full cooperation and support to them as they assume their new positions.
Richard Sarles, General Manager and Chief Executive Officer