The nation’s oldest police force has a new chief.

Col. Anthony S. “Steve” Pike has been named chief of Virginia’s Capitol Police, a department that began in Jamestown in 1618 and these days protects people visiting and working in the state capitol.

Pike, 46, who has been serving as interim chief since July, will oversee a department with about 100 sworn and support personnel. He succeeds Col. Kimberly S. Lettner, who retired that month after more than four years in the post.

Pike joined the Capitol Police as assistant chief in December after beating out 96 other candidates in a nationwide search. A native of Wythe County, he began his law enforcement career in 1988 with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, where he was named Officer of the Year in 1999. Pike also served four years in the Army.

“The Capitol Police plays an important role in ensuring the safety of those working in and visitors to the General Assembly,” said Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington), a member of the state commission that selected him. “Colonel Pike has impressed me as a knowledgeable, well-organized leader.” 

The Capitol Police department is a legislative branch agency that reports to the Legislative Support Commission. The seven-member commission, chaired by House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), selected Pike unanimously. 

“Like all members of the Legislative Support Commission, I am impressed by Steve Pike’s effective leadership, cooperative style of managing and his pragmatic approach to problem solving,” Howell said in a statement issued Tuesday to announce Pike’s selection. “The fact that he was chosen so recently from such an exceptionally strong candidate pool, coupled with positive feedback from those working for and with Colonel Pike, made the decision an obvious one. He is thorough, always prepared and believes in not just doing a job but doing it right and without lots of fanfare.”