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The Virginia Capitol Square is a unique place, for within its ancient fence the march of time is suspended. The thousands of visitors who come to Capitol Square each year can walk where Thomas Jefferson walked or stand where George Washington stood. They can see the Capitol Building designed by Jefferson and can almost hear the bell in the old bell tower that used to call out the Public Guard.

Visitors to the square are met by members of the Division of Capitol Police. These officers, dressed in gray and blue, represent the Commonwealth to people from all over the world.

The Division of Capitol Police has the distinct honor and privilege of being recognized as the first organized policing agency in the nation. Our historical roots originate at the first permanent English settlement in Jamestown, Va. The Guard, consisting of 10 men, was formed in 1618 to protect the governor from the hostile Indian population. By 1663, the force was expanded to 20 men and assigned to protect the governor, the Council and the Colonial Assembly.

The capital was moved in 1699 to Williamsburg, Va., where the Guard remained an important part of the executive and legislative process. In 1780, the capital of Virginia was again relocated to a safer location, its current home in Richmond. In 1801, the General Assembly enacted legislation creating The Public Guard, which was responsible for protecting public property in Richmond. This military force remained active until 1869.

The term "Capitol Police" was first used in an act of the Virginia General Assembly passed on Jan. 28, 1884. This act provided "for the appointment of Capitol Police certain other employees about the Public Buildings and Grounds."

The Capitol Police has steadily expanded in size and remains in service to this day.

400th Anniversary Information