By Angela Andrews
The Virginia Division of Capitol Police is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year!
The department traces its roots back to 1618 and the establishment of Jamestown.
The Guard, as the force was called at the time, was established to protect the governor and new English colonists. Its duties were expanded to protect the Colonial Assembly in 1663 and this unit remained intact when Virginia’s capitol was moved to Williamsburg in 1699 and then to its current home in Richmond in 1780. In 1869, the force was renamed the Virginia Capitol Police.
Today, the Virginia Division of Capitol Police provides security to the buildings and grounds of the Capitol, patrolling these sites and investigating crimes occurring on these properties, among other duties. The division also provides security to members of the General Assembly, the governor and his family, the lieutenant governor, attorney general, justices of the Virginia Supreme Court, and judges serving on Virginia’s Court of Appeals.
In 1618, the Guard started with 10 men. Today, the Division of Capitol Police employs 125 and has three dogs in its K-9 unit. It is led by Colonel Steve Pike, a member of NCSL’s Executive Committee and immediate past president of the National Legislative Services and Security Association (NLSSA).
“The Virginia Capitol Police has a long and distinguished history, first in Jamestown and then in Williamsburg, before eventually moving to Richmond,” he said. “We are committed to providing progressive law enforcement to the seat of Virginia’s government.”
This anniversary has been commemorated through a year-long celebration, starting with a presentation of a commemorative resolution by the Virginia General Assembly. An exhibit about the 400-year history of the unit is currently being shown at the Virginia Capitol Annex and will be in place until early 2019. The Capitol Police also hosted the annual training conference for the National Legislative Services and Security Association.
Learn more about the history of Virginia’s Capitol Police, including an interactive timeline.
Angela Andrews directs NCSL’s Legislative Staff Services Program and serves as a co-liaison to the National Legislative Services and Security Association (NLSSA). NLSSA is one of nine professional staff associations at NCSL.