Winchester is the oldest city in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 1716, Virginia’s governor led a band of explorers across the mountains at Swift Run Gap. Colonel James Wood founded Winchester as a town in 1744. In 1755, as a colonel commanding the Virginia Militia in Winchester, George Washington was given the task of defending the western Virginia frontier. In 1788, Virginia became the tenth state admitted into the Union. In 1822, the City of Winchester Police Department was first created. It consisted of one officer, known as the Town Sergeant. During the Civil War, Winchester changed hands between the Confederate and Union armies more than 70 times.
The City of Winchester is home to approximately 26,000 residents. During the working day that number grows to more than 70,000. Each spring Winchester is host to the Apple Blossom Festival, in which the population of the city swells to 500,000. The Police Department is comprised of 74 full-time officers. The Department is a leader in the community policing philosophy and is dedicated to professional public service.