Cleveland Division of Police

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This article is about the Cleveland, Ohio police force. For the English police force, see Cleveland Police.
Cleveland Division of Police
Abbreviation CDP
Shoulder sleeve patch for patrol officers.
Agency overview
Formed 1868
Employees 1,709 (2012) [1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* City of Cleveland in the state of Ohio, US
Jurisdiction of the Cleveland Division of Police
Size 82.47 sq mi (213.6 km²)
Population 393,781 (2012)
Legal jurisdiction City of Cleveland
Governing body Cleveland Department of Public Safety
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters 1300 Ontario Street
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S
Officers 1,550 (2014)[2]
Unsworn members 228 (2012)
Elected officer responsible Michael McGrath, Director
Agency executive Calvin Williams, Chief of Police
Division of Police
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Cleveland Division of Police is the governmental agency responsible for law enforcement in the city of Cleveland, Ohio. Michael McGrath was the chief of police since 2005 and then became the Safety Service Director on February 10, 2014 when Calvin Williams was appointed Chief of Police.



Prior to 1850, the preservation of the peace was left to an elected city marshal who was assisted by a number of constables and night watchmen.[3] Concerns over the adequacy of this arrangement had led, in 1837, to the formation of the Cleveland Grays, a private military company, for the partial stated purpose of assisting local law enforcement when and if the need arose.[4] In 1850, city council formally appointed the first night watch.[5] In 1866, under enabling legislation passed by the Ohio General Assembly called the Metropolitan Police Act, the Cleveland Police Department was formed, headed by a board of police commissioners tasked with the job of appointing a superintendent of police as well as a number of patrol officers.[3]

The department's early years were not without challenge and it underwent two reorganizations prior to 1893. By the end of the century, however, the climate had begun to calm and the city saw improvements in service. The department had begun to innovate by adopting a callbox system, beginning the use of police wagons, and forming a mounted unit. In 1903, the department took on its current form when the General Assembly repealed the Metropolitan Police Act and the responsibility for the formation and control of the department was given to the city.[3]

Pre-World War II[edit]

See also: Eliot Ness

From the early 1900s to the start of World War II, the department concentrated on managing the city's rapid growth. Cleveland was rapidly growing, even through the Great Depression, with the population increasing from 380,000 in 1900, to more than 830,000 by the 1920s.[6] The police department grew with the city, growing from less than 400 officers in 1900, to more than 1,300 by 1920. When legendary Prohibition-era crimefighter Eliot Ness became director of public safety in 1935, he abolished the existing system of precincts and reorganized the city into police districts, with each commanded by a captain.[6] Ness's system is still in use today. Under Ness, the Division of Police has experimented with new technologies and procedures, gaining a reputation as one of the most progressive and efficient departments in the nation.[6]

Post-World War II[edit]

While the population of the city remained stable through the 1940s and 1950s, the police department continued to grow, with more than 2,000 officers by 1960. However, the 1960s saw relations between the department and the city's growing Black community begin to deteriorate. In 1966, even though Cleveland was over a third Black, only 165 of Cleveland's 2,200 police officers were Black, adding to the distrust between the Black community and the Police Department[7] especially in events leading up to the Hough Riots and Glenville Shootout.

By the 1970s, the department, like the rest of the city government, was suffering from Cleveland's failing economy. Aging equipment could not be replaced, and the department saw its numbers drop by more than 700 by the end of the decade. This, along with rising crime rates left the police department with a reputation as a disorganized and demoralized force that would take decades to lose.[6] Further aggravating the situation, The City of Cleveland was found guilty of discriminating against minorities in hiring, promoting, and recruiting government officials, specifically police officers, by a federal court in 1977.[6] As a result of this judgement, the department was forced to place an emphasis on rebuilding community relations and recruiting minorities. By 1992, the number of police officers increased by more than 300 officers to 1,700, of whom 26% were black. During the administration of Michael White the department began to focus on community policing and rebuilding the damaged relationship between the department and the community. Nonetheless, during the White administration the role of police chief was "a revolving door of chiefs".[6]

Under the Jane L. Campbell administration of 2002-06, the Division of Police laid off more than 200 officers. The Police Aviation Unit was grounded. Ports and Harbor was disbanded, even the CPD Mounted (Horse) unit was disestablished. The department was again seen as a demoralized force during the Campbell administration.[6]

Under current mayor Frank Jackson, nine previously laid-off patrol officers were reinstated and a new class of police officers has graduated from the academy. Mayor Jackson has reduced the number of Police Districts from six to five and has ordered police to be aggressive in the fight against crime. The CPD mounted unit has been restored and those mounted officers patrol the downtown area. Mayor Jackson has had only one chief of police: Michael McGrath[disambiguation needed],[8] as head of administration, as opposed to other administrations. The Cleveland Police are also investigating the possibility of remodeling certain aspects of the department after the NYPD, including initializing a CompStat system.

Under Mayor Jackson, the department has also embarked upon a program of increased cooperation and coordination with other law enforcement agencies in the region. Since 2011, the Division has employed a LEVA (Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Video Association) Certified Specialist to capture, examine, compare and evaluate all recorded audio/video evidence that can be associated with crimes within the city. This has yielded convictions in cases from simple burglary up to and including high profile homicide cases. It is part of the city's commitment to leveraging technology to create a safer city. Cleveland Police have recently formed a financial crimes unit. Mayor Jackson has restored the Cleveland Police Aviation Unit and there have been talks about turning control of the unit over to the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department so as to allow the unit to provide aerial services to the suburbs as well as the central city.[9] A reorganized marine patrol was unveiled in 2010 in partnership with the sheriff and the Lakewood and Euclid city departments.[9] Changes to the command structure have included the assignment of a department commander to supervise the department's intelligence and crime analysis operations as well as coordinate the department's efforts with those of the Northeast Ohio Regional Fusion Center.[9]

Notable cases involving the CPD[edit]

Fallen officers[edit]

Since 1853, the Cleveland Division of Police has lost 106 officers in the line of duty.[13]


Administrative operations[edit]

  • Provides services that enable the other programs to effectively respond to service calls. It provides security services; warrant, subpoena and property processing; radio and telephone communications; inspection of police services; and management of information and human resources. Additional functions include the reporting and recording of crimes and incidents and personnel development.

Field operations[edit]

  • Bureau of Traffic
    • As part of Field Operations, the Bureau of Traffic provides traffic and crowd control at major events, investigates serious traffic accidents and ensures the safety of school children walking to and from school.
  • Downtown Services Unit (D.S.U)
    • In May 2008 the D.S.U. was created to offset the closing of the old Third District while still providing a police presence in the downtown area. In addition to regular patrol the D.S.U. is involved in policing special events, the Warehouse District, as well as numerous undercover enforcement operations.
  • D.A.R.E. programs
  • Community Relations
  • Auxiliary Police
  • Patrol
  • Airport Police
    • Highly trained officers who are permanently assigned to serve Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. They provide a comprehensive set of law enforcement services including routine patrol, crime investigation, vehicle traffic management, and control-and-response to airport emergencies.[14]
  • District Support
    • District support sections assist uniformed patrols through the investigation of major offenses, concentrated action on specific complaints, and crime pattern analysis.

Special operations[edit]

  • S.W.A.T (founded in 1979)
  • Aviation Unit (Founded in 1990)
    • Does patrols for the city, mostly at night. The unit flies MD Helicopters MD 500 model MD 560E-369E. The helicopters carry very expensive equipment, including a three-million dollar Thermographic camera. The unit is looking into changing from the Cleveland Division of Police-Aviation Unit to the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Aviation Unit. This way they can patrol a greater area.
  • Ports and Harbor Unit (Founded 1939)
  • Mounted Unit
A fingerprint identification room at the police headquarters.
  • Investigations Division
    • Detective Bureaus
      • Arson
      • Auto Theft
      • Fraud
      • Narcotics
      • Robbery/Homicide
      • Sex Crimes/Special Victims
      • Youth Domestic Violence
  • Technical Support Division
    • Photography Lab Services
    • Forensics and Crime Scene Investigation/Analysis

Rank structure and insignia[edit]

Title Insignia
1 Gold Star.svg
Deputy Chief
Colonel Gold.png
US-O4 insignia.svg
Captain insignia gold.svg
US-O1 insignia.svg
NYPD Sergeant Stripes.svg
Police Officer


  • Male: 83%
  • Female: 17%
  • White: 67%
  • African-American/Black: 44%
  • Other: 6%[15]


A Cleveland Police black and white parked outside of City Hall.

Cleveland has primarily relied on black and white Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors for the past 25 years although there are a number of pre-2008 black and white Ford Taurus cars in the fleet. However, Cleveland's continued reliance on the Crown Victoria will not be possible given Ford's discontinuation of the Crown Victoria program in 2011. The Chevrolet Impala and the Dodge Charger were being viewed as possible replacements. In 2012, The Cleveland Division of Police selected the Dodge Charger for its future squad car.


Hough Riots[edit]

Main article: Hough Riots

The Hough Riots were race riots in the predominantly African American community centered on Hough Avenue that took place over a six-night period from July 18 to July 23, 1966, after a series of racially motivated confrontations outside of a neighborhood bar.[16] Racial tension was high between Cleveland's police and its African American community to begin with, and played a crucial role in further escalating the situation. Once it was determined that the CPD was unable to handle the situation without assistance, then-Mayor Ralph Locher asked Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes for state assistance and, on July 20, the Ohio National Guard entered the Hough neighborhood to help restore order.[16][17] During the riots, four African Americans were killed and 30 people were critically injured. In addition, there were 275 arrests, while more than 240 fires were reported.[16]

Glenville Shootout[edit]

Main article: Glenville Shootout

The Glenville Shootout was the culmination of a series of violent incidents that occurred in the Glenville section of Cleveland from July 23 to July 28, 1968.[18] The main incident began on the evening of July 23, 1968 in the eastern section of the Glenville neighborhood. Cleveland police officers were watching Fred Ahmed Evans and his radical militant group, who were suspected of purchasing illegal weapons.[18] It was not clear who shot first, but Evans and the police exchanged gunfire. The shootout attracted a large crowd that was described as "mostly black, young, and 'hostile'".[18] The following day, when it became clear that the department was ill-equipped to handle the situation, then-mayor Carl B. Stokes asked Governor James A. Rhodes to activate and deploy elements of the Ohio National Guard. The violent events of the first night resulted in the deaths of seven people, and injuries of fifteen others.[18]

The Hongisto feud[edit]

As then-mayor-elect, Dennis Kucinich appointed former San Francisco, California Sheriff Richard D. Hongisto as chief of police in 1977, a decision he would later come to regret.[19] Hongisto became immensely popular in Cleveland, especially with the city's ethnic Eastern European community. The chief was also popular with the media, especially after Hongisto saved a person from a snow bank during a 1978 snowstorm.[20] However, on March 23, Kucinich publicly suspended Hongisto for refusing to accept civilian control. Hongisto asserted that Kucinich interfered with the operation of the department.[21] Specifically, he stated that Kucinich's executive secretary Bob Weissman had pressured him to "punish" Kucinich opponents on the City Council and to reward police jobs to Kucinich supporters with "questionable ethics." In turn, Kucinich charged Hongisto with insubordination.[21]

In a press conference televised on Good Friday 1978, Kucinich gave Hongisto 24 hours to back up his charges. Then the mayor fired the chief in front of the live television cameras.[21] The controversial firing would be one of the underlying causes of Kucinich's near-removal from office.

High-speed chase[edit]

On November 29, 2012, 104 Cleveland police officers were involved in a high-speed chase that resulted in the shooting and killing of a man and a woman. The shooting was ruled justified.

On October 16, 2013, Police Chief Michael McGrath announced suspensions totaling 178 days for sixty-three of the officers who joined the chase in violation of department regulations. None of the thirteen officers who fired any of the 137 shots at the unarmed couple were part of this group of officers. They were subject of a criminal investigation being conducted by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty.[22]

Tamir Rice[edit]

On November 22, 2014, Tamir Rice was shot at Cudell Recreation Center by a Cleveland Police officer responding to a report of someone pointing a gun ("possibly fake" according to the 911 caller) at people. While the officer claimed that he had warned Rice to put down the gun, surveillance video showed Rice being shot almost immediately after the police car pulled up.[23]

In the aftermath of the shooting, it was reported that Timothy Loehmann, who was identified as the officer having fired the shots that killed Rice, had been deemed an emotionally unstable recruit, and unfit for duty in his previous job as a policeman in Independence, Ohio.[24][25]

Justice Department investigation[edit]

In December 2012, after a series of deadly force incidents, Cleveland mayor Frank G. Jackson, local U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge, and others asked the United States Department of Justice to investigate the division.[26] The Justice Department announced the beginning of its probe on March 14, 2013.[27] On December 4, 2014, United States Attorney General Eric Holder announced the completion of an investigation into a long-term pattern of excessive force by Cleveland Division of Police officers.[22][28]

The Justice Department report was released on December 4, 2014. [29] The report found that from 2010-2013, the Cleveland police had demonstrated a "pattern ... of unreasonable and unnecessary use of force" and used guns, Tasers, "impact weapons", pepper spray and fists in excess, unnecessarily or in retaliation. The report further found officers also use excessive force on those "who are mentally ill or in crisis."[30] The report also highlights that officers "carelessly fire their weapons, placing themselves, subjects, and bystanders at unwarranted risk of serious injury or death", and noted that "many African-Americans reported that they believe [Cleveland police] officers are verbally and physically aggressive toward them because of their race." [31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FBI — City agency". Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c "CLEVELAND POLICE DEPARTMENT - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History". The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. 20 May 2002. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  4. ^ Vourlojianis, George N. (2002). The Cleveland Grays: An Urban Military Company, 1837-1919. Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press. p. 14. ISBN 0-87338-678-7. 
  5. ^ Kollar, Mary Ellen (2 March 1998). "CLEVELAND CITY GOVERNMENT - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History". Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History". 
  7. ^ "Hough Riots". , Ohio History Central
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b c Gillispie, Mark (January 3, 2011 - Updated January 4, 2011). "Cleveland Police Department announces reorganization aimed at threats posed by gunmen, explosive devices". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 13 November 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ "Cleveland police to discipline 75 officers for role in deadly chase". Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "Cleveland police to suspend 63 officers for roles in deadly November chase". Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "63 Cleveland Police Officers Suspended Over Deadly Chase". Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "The Officer Down Memorial Page". Retrieved 08-09-2008.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  14. ^ "Security Information - CLE". Airport Guide - Security Information. City of Cleveland - Department of Port Control - Cleveland Airport System. Retrieved 25 December 2012. 
  15. ^ Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics, 2000: Data for Individual State and Local Agencies with 100 or More Officers
  16. ^ a b c Walter Johnson. "The Night They burned Old Hough". Retrieved 08-08-31.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  17. ^ Hough Riots, Hough Riots - Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.
  18. ^ a b c d The Encyclopedia Of Cleveland History by Cleveland Bicentennial Commission (Cleveland, Ohio), David D. Van Tassel (Editor), and John J. Grabowski (Editor) ISBN 0-253-33056-4
  19. ^ Cleveland: Prodigy of the Western Reserve by George E. Condon ISBN B0006DX6QQ
  20. ^ The Crisis of Growth Politics: Cleveland, Kucinich, and the Challenge of Urban Populism by Todd Swanstrom ISBN 0-87722-366-1
  21. ^ a b c The Plain Dealer, August 1, 1999. Our Century: 'Boy Mayor' Leads Battle Into Default by Fred McGunagle.
  22. ^ a b Blackwell, Brandon (October 16, 2013). "Cleveland police to suspend 63 officers for roles in deadly November chase". The Plain Dealer. - Northeast Ohio Media Group LLC. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  23. ^ McCarthy, Tom (26 November 2014). "Tamir Rice: video shows boy, 12, shot 'seconds' after police confronted child". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  24. ^ Mai-Duc, Christine. "Cleveland officer who killed Tamir Rice had been deemed unfit for duty". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  25. ^ "Cleveland officer who fatally shot Tamir Rice judged unfit for duty in 2012". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  26. ^ Atassi, Leila (December 27, 2012). "Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson seeks outside review of all future use of deadly force cases (updated)". Northeast Ohio Media Group. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  27. ^ Atassi, Leila. "Cleveland police under investigation by U.S. Justice Department (video) (photo gallery)". Northeast Ohio Media Group. The Plain Dealer. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  28. ^ McCarthy, James F. (December 4, 2014). "Justice Department wants sweeping changes in Cleveland Police Department; report finds 'systemic deficiencies'". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved December 5, 2014. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Justice Dept.: Cleveland police have pattern of excessive force". CNN. Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  31. ^ "Feds Find Shocking, Systemic Brutality, Incompetence In Cleveland Police Department". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 6 December 2014. 

External links[edit]