On December 19, 2022, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society presented the 2022 Freedom Award to the U.S. Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police for their enduring work to keep the Capitol and the Congress safe.
C-SPAN 2 aired the ceremony on Jan. 7, which featured remarks by Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger and D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Robert J. Contee III, who accepted the Freedom Award on behalf of Washington’s law enforcement. The 2021 Freedom Award recipients, who earned the award for their role as Congressional tellers in the electoral college count on January 6, 2021, Senator Roy Blunt and Senator Amy Klobuchar, presented the award. Finally, our event featured Society President, Jane L. Campbell, who shared a brief history of the Capitol Police and the D.C. Metropolitan Police.
A Brief History of the U.S. Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department:
In 1789, the United States Congress met in New York City’s Federal Hall—our nation’s first capitol under the U.S. Constitution. One year later, Congress passed the Residence Act which established a permanent capital along the Potomac River and made Philadelphia the temporary seat of government. During this decade, there was no official police force whose duty it was to protect Members of Congress or the building they worked in. In fact, there was no such dedicated force dating to the First Continental Congress in 1774 through Thomas Jefferson’s election in 1800.
That year, Congress and our government moved from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., where they remained ever since. In 1801, Congress passed “An Act Concerning the District of Columbia,” which provided the city a marshal and the appointment of justices of the peace. Shortly thereafter, a man named John Golding was hired as the U.S. Capitol building’s first watchmen. Legally, he only had the authority to detain those suspected of damaging government property.