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The History of the Protective Services Police Department

In the 1940’s after World War II, the Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia organized a security force primarily made up of veterans that were tasked with safeguarding District owned properties in order to prevent theft and protect the District’s assets. During this period, this force was known as the District of Columbia Guard Force, whose primary duty was to provide night-watchman services for District buildings. By the 1960’s the changing world environment and the escalation of the Vietnam War, made the need for better protected District properties apparent. The force became known as the District of Columbia Special Police Force and increased in size as the force began to provide a full range of security services to the DC Courts, the District Building and to various other District agencies.

In 1973, with the passage of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, the District Government went through a period of expansion and separation from the federal government during which the District of Columbia Special Police Force also expanded and transformed into a force capable of providing security services in the rapidly changing world environment. The force grew to its largest size of 460 officers during this period. In March 1977 when gunfire during the Hanafi Muslim Siege at the John Wilson District Building seriously wounded councilmember Marion Barry and claimed the lives of PSD Officer Mack Wesley Cantrell and reporter Maurice Williams of WHUR, changed the scope of the agency. In June 1982, the Council passed the District of Columbia Protective Services Police Identification Act 4-115, officially changing the name to the District of Columbia Protective Services Police.

In March 2010, the name of the force was changed to the Protective Services Police Department to reflect the increasing responsibilities and professional standards of the force as well as to recognize the development of the force towards becoming a prominent law enforcement agency in the field of protective services.

The PSPD is responsible for managing and providing security and law enforcement services at District owned and leased properties.  The mission is executed through patrol operations, contract security guard management, and electronic security systems.  The PSPD also assists District and federal agencies during special events and emergencies. The PSPD officers also handle a wide variety of assignments ranging from traffic enforcement, thefts, assaults, and providing security for visiting dignitaries on district property.

The PSPD has also created presentations to educate the District government employees on basic safety scenarios such as workplace violence.

The PSPD would like to recognize our most tenured employees listed below and offer sincere appreciation for their many years of dedicated service to the city:

Employee Hire Date Yrs. Worked
Easley, Ronald E 10/2/1972 40.1
Sharpe, Franklin E 6/20/1973 39.4
Washington Jr., Edward 12/23/1974 37.9
Williams, John 5/5/1975 37.5
Bailey, Leroy 1/12/1976 36.8
Weeks Jr., Harry L 12/14/1981 30.9
Forrest, Samuel J 5/16/1982 30.5