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Historical Highlights

The First Black Capitol Police Woman

October 15, 1974
The First Black Capitol Police Woman Image courtesy of Arva “Marie” Johnson, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives Officer Arva “Marie” Johnson at her post, circa 1979
On this date Arva “Marie” Johnson became the first African-American woman to serve on the Capitol Police force. Born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, on February 3, 1950, Johnson attended public schools in the Tarheel State before moving to Washington, D.C. When the Capitol Police—the congressional law enforcement agency originally founded in 1828—opened its force to women in 1974, Johnson applied and was hired. At the age of 24, she joined three other women officers in the inaugural class. Johnson holds the distinction of being the first black woman on the force, as well as the first woman in uniform—two of the women officers worked a plain-clothes detail. Upon her retirement in January 2007, after a 32-year career as a Capitol Police officer, Johnson reminisced, “If I was young again and could do it, I would come here and work. Yes, it's a good opportunity, and knowing what I know, I would come back.”

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