About the Cleveland Police

The Cleveland Division of Police as it is known today was established on May 1, 1866 with the passage of the Metropolitan Police Act. It was reorganized on April 1, 1871 when the Ohio General Assembly allowed taxes to be levied to pay for police services. In 1903 it was classified as a division of the Department of Safety headed by the Director of Public Safety. Legendary crime fighter Eliot Ness (of Untouchables fame) served as the Director of Public Safety from 1935 until 1942.

The division has a long and storied tradition. The decorated Mounted Police, the longest standing in the United States, has marched in Presidential inaugurations and funerals and won the championship in Military Mounted Drill at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933.

The Division of Police is recognized for a number of “firsts” in policing, including the first bank robbery in progress caught on film and the first criminal conviction secured by matching a palm print lifted from a crime scene to a suspect. The Division of Police also played a part in two landmark United States Supreme Court cases which affect the manner in which police officers practice their trade. One, Terry v. Ohio, allowed police officers to conduct a “pat down” search of criminal suspects without making an arrest or securing a warrant. This important decision is credited with saving the lives of countless police officers across the country. Tragically, 107 Cleveland Police Officers have paid the ultimate sacrifice. The names and badges of those who have died in the service of the people of the City of Cleveland are poignantly displayed in prominence on the first floor of the police headquarters building at the corner of Ontario St. and St. Clair Ave.

Today, more than 1,600 dedicated men and women make up the second largest police force in the State of Ohio. Led by Chief Calvin D. Williams, the highest priority of the Division of Police is to provide public safety. To efficiently and effectively accomplish this, the Division is organized into Administrative Operations, Field Operations, and Homeland Special Operations.

Police Organizational Chart