Virginia State Police

The Virginia State Police, officially the Virginia Department of State Police, is a U.S. state law enforcement agency, conceived in 1919 and established in 1932, that acts as the state police force for the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. The agency originated out of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles as an inspector and enforcer of highway laws. It is currently one of fourteen agencies within the Cabinet Secretariat of Public Safety, under the leadership of Secretary Brian Moran. On January 18, 2018, Gary T. Settle was sworn in as Superintendent of the Virginia State Police. Colonel Settle replaces retiring Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, who had served since 2003.

Virginia Department of State Police
Badge of a Virginia State Trooper
Common nameVirginia State Police
Agency overview
Preceding agency
  • Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles
Employees2696 (as of September 24, 2018) [1]
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionU.S.
Virginia State Police Divisions Map
Size42,774 square miles (110,780 km2)
Population8,470,020 (July 1, 2017 estimate[2])
General nature
HeadquartersNorth Chesterfield, Virginia
Troopers & Special Agents2,118 (as of 2018) [3]
Civilians848 (as of 2018) [3]
Agency executives
  • Brian Joseph Moran, Secretary of Public Safety
  • Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent
Parent agencyVirginia Secretary of Public Safety


In 1919 the Virginia State Police was conceived with the passing of the Automobile acts which stated that the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles and his assistants were vested with the powers of a Sheriff for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of the law. The Secretary of the Commonwealth continued to be responsible for this regulation. The burden of enforcement remained with Sheriffs and Constables in counties and police officers in the cities and towns.

In 1919 the Motor Vehicle Act was passed, creating the first title laws for Virginia motor vehicle owners.

In 1932 inspectors became empowered to enforce criminal codes, as well as motor vehicle codes. In doing so legislators created a state enforcement group with the power to arrest anywhere in Virginia. A mobile enforcement agency was now ready for duty wherever civil strife or emergency conditions might exist that would warrant police personnel to ensure peace and security. It was at this time that inspectors began to be known as "Troopers."

On November 3, 1938, an executive order from Majors Bishop and Nicholas officially adopted the title of "State Trooper." The purpose of this was to identify specific members of the Division of Motor Vehicles performing the role of inspector and motorcycle deputy.

On March 14, 1942, the General Assembly abolished the existing Division of Motor Vehicles and created two separate agencies: The Division of Motor Vehicles and the Department of State Police. The act called for a position of superintendent for the State Police and a commissioner for the Division of Motor Vehicles. Major C. W. Woodson Jr. was officially appointed as superintendent for the State Police.

Trooper Training

Training for Troopers is divided into 2 phases;

Phase 1: Academy Training (approximately 29 weeks, with 1,536 hours of instruction covering more than 100 courses)

Phase 2: Field Training (approximately 6 to 8 weeks)

Organizational structure

The Department of State Police consists of the Superintendent's Office, Deputy Superintendent's Office and three bureaus: Administrative and Support Services, Criminal Investigations and Field Operations.[4]

The Superintendent's Office oversees the Public Relations Office and the Office of Performance Management and Internal Controls.

The Deputy Superintendent's Office oversees the Executive Protective Unit, the Office of Internal Affairs, the Bureau's of Administrative and Support Services, Criminal Investigations and Field Operations.

The structure of the three bureaus are:

Bureau of Field Operations (BFO)

- Seven Field Operations Divisions, numbered 1 through 7 (subdivided into 49 area offices, numbered 1 through 49)

- Aviation Division (comprising three aviation bases, Richmond, Abingdon and Lynchburg)

- Safety Division (comprising the Virginia Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection Program and the Motor Carrier Unit)

- Special Operations Division (comprising a full time Tactical Team in Divisions 4 and 6)

- Search and Recovery/SCUBA Unit

Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI)

Ten divisions:

- Criminal Intelligence Division

- High Tech Crimes Division

- Support Services Division

- Seven Division Field Offices (One in each of the BFO Field Divisions)

Bureau of Administrative and Support Services (BASS)

Six divisions:

-- Criminal Justice Information Services Division—Information & Communications Technologies Division—Human Resources Division—Property & Finance Division—Training Division—Office of Legal Affairs

  • Department of State Police (commanded by the Colonel)
  • Bureaus (commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel)
  • Divisions (commanded by a Captain)
  • Areas (commanded by a First Sergeant)

Uniform and equipment

The standard Trooper uniform consists of a light gray colored button-up shirt, with long sleeves in winter and short sleeves in summer. A black tie is worn with the long-sleeve shirt. Patches are sewn to each sleeve. Gray pants with a Dark Blue stripe down the sides are worn year round. Black Clarino shoes and Sam Browne belt, without cross strap, gun belt are worn with the uniform.

A black semi-gloss straw Campaign hat is worn year round. A modified winter fur cap can be worn in the colder months.

A dark blue dress blouse and standard black Clarino Sam Browne gun belt, without the cross strap, are worn for special occasions. Dark blue work jackets are utilized for colder months. Black Commando Sweaters, or "wooly pullys" with proper patches and rank can also be worn by Troopers in cold weather.

Sergeants and First Sergeants wear silver, out lined in blue, chevrons showing their rank on both sleeves. Lieutenants and above wear their rank insignia on the shirt collar.

First Sergeants and below wear silver, out lined in blue, hash marks on the left sleeve denoting years of service. Each hash mark represents five years of service.

Issued Weapons

Troopers of all ranks and Special Agents are issued the SIG Sauer P229R .357 SIG DAK pistol, while Troopers ranked First Sergeant and below are also issued the Remington Model 870 12-gauge Police Magnum shotgun and the Colt M4 Carbine patrol rifle. Less-than-lethal weapons carried by troopers include OC spray and the ASP baton.

Starting in late 2018 sworn members will begin transitioning to the SIG Sauer P320 .357 SIG semi-automatic pistol[5] and the Benelli Supernova 12-gauge, pump-action shotgun.[6]

Previous Issued Weapons
Issued Vehicles

The department has used many different makes and models since its inception.

Patrol Cars

Prior to 1928, inspectors only used automobiles once they had seized a vehicle used to transport illegal whiskey and it had been released to the Division for enforcement purposes by the courts. Fords became the first issued patrol vehicles in 1928. In 1932 white Chevrolet roadsters and white motorcycles were purchased and became known as the "Great White Fleet". Fords and Chevys were the main staple of the patrol force in the 1930s and early 1940s. In 1945 post-war acquisitions of police vehicles were rare and troopers made arrangements to purchase vehicles wherever they could. Buicks and Pontiacs supplemented the fleet until auto manufacturers resumed normal production.

In 1948 the Department adopted the distinctive blue and gray paint scheme for all vehicles. Later in 1952 reflective markings were adopted and used for all marked vehicles. Those same markings are still in use today.

During the 1940s, 50's, 60's, 70's, and 80's the Department purchased Fords, Chevy's, Chryslers, and Plymouths for use as patrol cars. Ford's and Chevy's were used mainly used in the 90's and 2000's. Dodge Chargers were introduced into the fleet in 2006.

Red emergency lights were in use until 1985 and then were replaced with blue emergency lights. Bar lights were phased onto vehicles in 1988 replacing the single "bubble gum" light. "TROOPER" decals were added to the front fenders of patrol cars in 1998. Also in 1998 the Department adopted Ford silver replacing the gray in the traditional paint scheme. Only the hood, ceiling and trunk were painted blue. This was due to budget constraints and that Ford stop using that particular gray paint. "Slicktop" Chevrolet Impalas were put into use beginning in 2001. Seven "slicktop" 2002 Chevrolet 9C1 Camaros were put into service in high traffic areas in 2002.

In 2006 the Department purchased 30+ Hemi V8 Dodge Chargers and for the first time since 1948 adopted new graphics for the marked and slicktop Chargers. Current budget restraints prohibit the new markings from being implemented onto the standard fleet.

In 2008 the Virginia State Police's Dodge Charger was Law and Order Magazine's Police Vehicle Design Winner for State and Federal Agencies.

In 2013 the Ford Police Interceptor Sedan was added to the fleet of Virginia State Police vehicles since the Ford Crown Vic model ceased production. In 2019, the Virginia State Police bought every available new Police Interceptor sedan, giving the state a steady supply of new Interceptor sedans for up to 5 years beyond the model's discontinuation depending on vehicle attrition due to accidents or other damage.

Starting in 2019, the department has added Ford Police Interceptor SUV for specialty units (K-9, TacTeam and motor carrier units).

Rank structure

Bureau of Field Operations (BFO)[7]

Rank Insignia Description
Colonel[7] Superintendent of State Police
Lieutenant Colonel[7] Deputy Superintendent (1) / Bureau Director (1 per bureau) / Office of Performance Management and Internal Controls (1)
Major[7] Bureau Deputy Director (2 per bureau)
Captain[7] Division Commander
Lieutenant[7] Field / Headquarters Lieutenant / Staff Assistant
First Sergeant[7] Area Commander
Sergeant[7] First-line supervisor
Master Trooper[7] Career Progression, based on length of service, 25+ years[7]
Senior Trooper[7] Career Progression, based on length of service, 9+ years[7]
Trooper-Pilot[7] Trooper's assigned to the Aviation Unit [7]
Trooper II [7] Career Progression, automatic after 1 year probationary period[7]
Trooper I [7] Probationary Trooper, first year in the field[7]
Trainee[7] Status while attending the state police academy[7]

Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI)[7]

  • Lieutenant Colonel (Bureau Director)[7]
  • Major (Bureau Deputy Director)[7]
  • Captain (Division Commander)[7]
  • Lieutenant (Section Commander / Staff Assistant)[7]
  • First Sergeant (Assistant Special Agent in Charge / Unit Commander / First-line supervisor)[7]
  • Senior Special Agent, career progression[7]
  • Special Agent[7]

See also


  1. NR-1, Department of State Police (January 18, 2018). NEW YEAR WELCOMES NEW LEADERSHIP WITHIN VIRGINIA STATE POLICE (Report). Richmond, VA: Commonwealth of Virginia. p. 1. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  2. QuickFacts Virginia
  3. NR-1
  4. Organizational Structure
  5. Virginia Department of State Police (2009). "Trooper Recruitment : Rank Structure". Richmond, VA: Commonwealth of Virginia. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
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