The Cleveland Police Museum is honored to tell the stories of our Fallen Officers on the anniversary of their End of Watch
James M. Skernivitz was born and raised in the Slavic Village neighborhood of the City of Cleveland. He was appointed a Cleveland Police Officer on February 17, 1998, achieving a goal he had to try and make his home city a safer place. After completing the Police Academy, he served in the Second, Third and Fourth Districts and was assigned to the Gang Unit in 2013. He proudly served as a member of the Police Honor Guard and Funeral Detail. He was sworn in as a member of the F.B.I.’s Violent Crime Task Force on September 2nd, 2020 and was to be part of Operation Legend, a federal law enforcement effort taking place in cities across the country.
Detective Skernivitz was shot and killed as he sat in an undercover car on West 67 Place (near West 65 Street and Storer Avenue) at about 10 p.m. on September 3rd, 2020, while he was meeting with a concerned citizen.
The funeral for Detective Skernivitz was held at the Rocket Mortgage Field House in downtown Cleveland. U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr spoke at the funeral service and called Detective Skernivitz “an American hero.” “Detective Skernivitz dedicated his life to the citizens of Cleveland and made our city a safer place,” said Director of Public Safety Karrie D. Howard. “Jimmy was a great police officer, he was what we call a “policeman’s policeman,” said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin D. Williams. “He worked hard for the city that he loved, he worked hard to take care of his family and he worked hard to take care of his fellow officers.” He was the recipient of many commendations and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Outstanding Unit Award and Special Commendation Award.
Detective Skernivitz is survived by his wife Kristen and by his children Matthew Collecchi, Bayleigh and Peyton Skernivitz. He was the son of Sandra and the late James, brother of Greg, and son-in-law of George and Marcia Kilburg.