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. 

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

Cleveland Police Museum