Inspired by a visit to Scotland Yard’s Black Museum in London, England, Cleveland Police Detective Robert Bolton convinced Chief William Hanton that Cleveland should have its own police museum. Subsequently, Detective Bolton, Chief Hanton, Deputy Chief Lloyd Patterson, and Deputy Chief Richard Kazmir incorporated The Cleveland Police Historical Society in May 1983 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
The first officers of the society included Detective Bolton as President, along with Vice President Sergeant Gerald Pawlowski, Secretary Patrol Officer Robert Graning, Treasurer Lieutenant Aloysuis J. Jezior, and Directors Lieutenant Howard Rudolph and Traffic Commissioner Thomas Baginski.
The Cleveland Police Museum, opened in June 1983 with Florence E. Schwein as its director. It originally consisted of 1200 sq. ft. of space on the first floor of Police Headquarters in the Justice Center. The museum featured exhibits that documented the history of the Cleveland Police from its inception in 1866. In the first seven months, 3,000 visitors toured the museum. By the end of 1984, the museum’s guest book recorded not only local visitors but many from across the U.S. (including Alaska and Hawaii), and 14 other countries as well.
Scholars and researchers, ranging from local and out-of-state schoolchildren to PhDs visit our museum. The CPHS established its website and e-mail in 1999, which has resulted in contacts from local areas as well as many of the United States; including Pennsylvania, Maryland, Texas, Massachusetts, California, Kentucky, New York, Wisconsin, Indiana, Arkansas, and Louisiana. In addition, The CPHS has responded to electronic inquiries from people in Canada, Serbia, England, Germany, Argentina, The Netherlands, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
Cleveland's police museum continues to be one of the few law enforcement museums open to the public in the United States, and has influenced police departments in other communities to create collections that relate to their own histories. The CPHS is unusual among similar organizations in that it works in cooperation with, but does not come under the control of the Cleveland Division of Police. Financial support comes from membership dues, donations, and grants from various government agencies and private organizations. The CPHS receives no tax funds from the City of Cleveland, State of Ohio, or the Federal Government.
In over thirty years of operation, The Cleveland Police Museum has grown from that initial sparse 1,200 sq. ft. to nearly 4,000 sq. ft. of exhibits, offices, and storage. The CPHS publishes a newsletter – The Hot Sheet; operates a museum store – The Cop Shop; and supports this site as well as a Facebook page.