Three law enforcement officers with Wilmington VA Medical Center are national police officers of the year for 2018, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced.

The VA officers will receive national recognition at an awards banquet this month.

Sgt. Pedro Custodio, Detective Chris Peters and Deputy Chief Paul Woodland are three of nine VA police officers slated to be officially recognized May 21 at VA’s ninth annual Chief of Police Awards Banquet in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Custodio, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps from Newark, was recently named VA’s 2018 Lead Officer of the Year (Category II). During the award period, Custodio served as lead firearms instructor, lead armorer, field training officer and active threat instructor. He also trained more than 100 facility employees in the prevention and management of disruptive behavior.

In 2004, Custodio graduated with honors from the VA Law Enforcement Training Center in Little Rock. At LETC, he achieved the highest GPA among his graduating class. Custodio spent five years at Baltimore VA Medical Center before transferring to Wilmington VA Medical Center in 2009.

Peters, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force from Dover, was selected as the VA’s 2018 Patrol Officer of the Year (Category II). Peters started with the VA Police Service in 2016, first as a dispatcher and later as an officer. He was promoted to detective in February.

In 2018, Peters completed 500 initial and follow-up reports, processed more than 50 pieces of evidence and trained three new officers and two dispatchers. He became qualified as a peer support counselor and crisis intervention responder. Peters organized Wilmington VA’s team for the 32nd Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run, an event that raised money for Delaware Special Olympics. He also represented his department at the state’s 2018 Military & Veterans Mental Health Summit.

Woodland, a veteran of the U.S. Navy from Newark, is the VA’s 2018 Supervisory Officer of the Year (Category II). Woodland, who spent 11 years in the military as a master at arms, started with VA Police in 2008. As a civilian police officer, he has experience at both Coatesville and Wilmington VA Medical Centers. Most notably, Woodland was VA’s 2015 Patrol Officer of the Year (Category II).

Since becoming deputy chief of police, Woodland was nominated for the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Top 40 Under 40 Award. He was recognized by IACP for his work supporting their One Mind Campaign. Woodland wrote policy on law enforcement response to the mentally ill, launched an addiction recovery initiative called First Light and chosen for VA’s inaugural Chiefs of Police Leadership Development Program. He is an original member of Delaware’s Veterans Response Team.

The three award recipients will formally receive their awards from Frederick Jackson, the VA deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Security and Law Enforcement.

Each year, the VA Office of Security and Law Enforcement solicits award nominations from 153 facilities across the country. The packages are split between two categories based on the number of employees. Each submission packet remains anonymous during the scoring process.

Wilmington VA’s police department is responsible for the protection of life and property at facilities under the VA’s jurisdiction. This includes the medical center, community living center, regional benefits office, support structures, grounds, and outpatient clinics. Wilmington VA has 20 officers, two dispatchers and one program support assistant. Currently, 87% are veterans representing every branch of the military.