Capitol Police History
The Delaware Capitol Police began as a three-man unit in 1965 to watch over Legislative Hall in order to deter vandalism of the property. The role of the unit known as Capitol Security was later expanded to include the surveillance of several other state properties. The unit was not funded and relied on donations and transfers of equipment from other agencies. The unit had a used state vehicle with no markings, emergency lighting, or radios. The security officers were unarmed and carried only nightsticks, handcuffs and a canister of tear gas. The officers received no formal training.
In July of 1974, Thomas Murray, the Director of Administrative Services, saw a need to expand the role of Capitol Security and initiated a two-week basic police/security training course for the officers as well as weapons qualification. This now enabled the officers to be sworn in as Constables with the same arrest powers as polices officers from the City of Dover Police Department while on state property and to be armed. Officers began attending the Delaware State Police Academy for formal police training. New police vehicles, equipped with radios, new uniforms, and a police canine were obtained. Legislation was now adopted that renamed the organization as the Capitol Security Police.
The governor was responsible for appointing the Chief of the Capitol Security Police until 1978 when it was changed into a merit position. Additionally, the division was given approval for a lieutenant and two sergeant's positions.
By 1980 all the officers who were qualified to attend the Delaware State Police Academy had completed their training. In Wilmington, the Carvel Building was completed and there was a request to increase the number of Capitol Security Police Officers assigned. This request was granted and the force in Wilmington was increased to four police officers. During this same period the Capitol Security Police were renamed as the Delaware Capitol Police.
In 1982 the State Attorney General's office swore in the officers of the Delaware Capitol Police thereby giving them statewide arrest powers. Governor Tom Carper, in July of 1994, moved the Division of the Capitol Police under the Department of Public Safety, later renamed the Department of Safety and Homeland Security by Governor Minner.
In 1995 the division saw even more changes. The unit's patch was changed from a simple depiction of Legislative Hall, to one that displays the state with a star marking the location of the capital, a backdrop of the cupola from Legislative Hall, and the state seal imposed over the southwest side of the state. This signifies the ever-increasing role of the division beyond the capital. The Capitol Police Communications Center in Dover was also moved over, and incorporated into, the state communications center. This enabled the division to operate on the same frequency as the State Police and provide the public with easier access to the division in an emergency through the 911 system.
Recent events such as the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the subsequent and continuing war on terror, renewed interests in enhancing security at many of the state facilities, completion of the New Castle County Courthouse and the Sussex County Chancery Court, renovations / expansions to other state facilities will certainly challenge the Delaware Capitol Police to further expand their duties and responsibilities while maintaining the same level of law enforcement services to the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the State of Delaware.
The requests for services, from throughout the state by numerous state agencies, has never been greater and are ever increasing. The Delaware Capitol Police will continue to strive to utilize its resources responsibly in an effort to meet these demands while maintaining the same high level of professionalism and service to the state.
- See more information about the Division of Capitol Police's structure