The Rhode Island Capitol Police is responsible for providing police and security services to many state facilities, including the State House, the buildings that house all of the courts, the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and a number of the state departments. The Capitol Police ensure the safety and security of the general officers, state legislators, judges, state employees, and members of the public who work in and visit these public buildings. The officers operate the metal detectors and x-ray machines at the entrances to all of the courthouses, the State House, and certain state agencies. They are responsible for the screening, and if necessary, searching employees and visitors entering these public buildings. They not only patrol these facilities to maintain a safe environment, they also respond to calls for service to investigate criminal, domestic, traffic and parking related incidents that occur on and/or within the state properties and facilities they patrol. The Capitol Police also work in conjunction with the Rhode Island State Police and the municipal police departments to enforce state law and municipal ordinances.
Chief Joseph Little, Jr. was appointed to lead the Rhode Island Capitol Police Department in August of 2010. He is responsible for the planning, organizing and daily operations of the entire agency. This includes implementing policies, procedures, training and reviewing security protocols to ensure that state facilities and the employees and visitors of those facilities are safe.
Prior to appointment, Chief Little spent 29 years with the Narragansett Rhode Island Police Department rising through the ranks and serving 3 years as the Chief. During that period, he served 6 months as the Acting Town Manager.
Chief Little holds a Master’s Degree from Salve Regina University and is a graduate of the 215th Session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He is a member of the Executive Board of the New England Chiefs of Police Association, a member of the International Police Chief’s Association (Capitol Police Section), the Rhode Island Police Chief’s Association, the FBI National Academy Associates, and the University of Rhode Island Criminologists Association.
The Rhode Island Capitol Police are to provide basic protection for life and property, enforce all laws and ordinances, maintain order at demonstrations and public events, prevent and repress crime, detect violations of the law, and apprehend violators at the Rhode Island State Capitol and annexes, properties contained therein, and the other state buildings, grounds and premises where they maintain security responsibilities.
The Rhode Island Capitol Police was established in 1974 so that the Rhode Island State House would have a police force unique unto itself and trained to deal with its specific security needs. Soon after, the court system and other state facilities adopted the Rhode Island Capitol Police as their first line of defense as well. In 2009 the Capitol Police, which had been established under the Department of Administration, was moved to the newly created Department of Public Safety. In June 2016, the agency achieved accreditation through the Rhode Island Police Accreditation Commission.