In 1938, Safety Director Eliot Ness implemented an extensive reorganization of the Cleveland Police Department. The 11th Precinct building, located at 1963 East 105th Street, was designated as the Headquarters for the new Fifth Police District. The building remained operational until 1960 when it was replaced with a new Fifth District Headquarters located at 10507 Chester Avenue, just northeast of the old Precinct Stationhouse.
The new building was dedicated on January 29, 1961 and featured a universal design, adaptable for future police buildings,, that was created by Architect Antonio DiNardo. The keys to the old Precinct were given to Mayor Anthony J. Celebrezze to be preserved as souvenirs.
Construction of the two-story building was overseen by Architect Joseph A. Gattozzi, who described the golden hued grillwork surrounding the second story as a solar screen. He said “It is designed to keep out glare from the sun and help maintain temperatures within the building. It will eliminate the need for drapes, blinds and awnings.” The building “is made of ceramic glazed tile blocks which will be self-cleansing in the rain. There is a space of three and a half feet between the screen and the windows.”
The building served as the Fifth District Headquarters as well as the home of the East Side Traffic Division and the Police Academy. The first floor housed the front desk to greet visitors, a Captain’s office, rooms for the Sergeants and Lieutenants, a room for the officers to make their reports, and a Roll Call room.
Also on the first floor were 20 prisoner cells in a block, along with three other cells, segregated from the rest, for holding women and juveniles. The jail cells were not visible to the public. The 5th District headquarters was just a temporary holding facility since all prisoners were transferred to Central Station every 8 or 12 hours. A prisoner booking area and a large temporary holding cell sat adjacent to the exterior sally-port, where prisoners were unloaded protected from the elements.
The adjoining garage held up to 30 zone cars and 4 patrol wagons and had access directly onto Chester Avenue and the rear parking lot. The exterior rear parking lot could hold up to 50 vehicles and had driveway access to East 105th Street, East 107th Street and Chester Avenue.
In the 1960s, ten Zone Cars were assigned to the Fifth District and were given Police Radio call numbers 501 through 510. The remaining call numbers were: 550 – District Commander; 551 – Captain; 552 – Sector 1 Lieutenant; 553 – Sector 2 Lieutenant; 554 & 555 – Sergeants; and 560 through 563 – Vice Unit. Paddy Wagon Mobile Patrol 591 operated out of the sally-port at the 5th District headquarters and Mobile Patrol 592 operated out of “Four Barn” (a two bay garage located in the rear of the old Fourth Precinct Station at 1888 East 55th Street.)
A portion of the second floor was designated for the Police Academy. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported “More pleasing to Safety Director John N. McCormick than any other feature of the new station are the two large classrooms on the second floor. He hopes to utilize them for year-round refresher courses for experienced policemen. A folding door between the classrooms may be pushed back to convert them into a big assembly hall – the only one available to the police department. In the large hall-way outside of the classrooms the chief looks forward to establishing someday a ‘crime prevention museum.’” The Fifth District Police Academy graduated twelve cadet classes between 1962 and 1967. The Cleveland Public Library established a small “police branch” on the second floor with books on law enforcement and police science for the cadets to use. Physical training took place at the St. Clair Recreation Center, 6520 St. Clair Avenue and weapons training was held at the Grays Armory, 1234 Bolivar Avenue.
Also on the second floor were the offices of the District Commander and locker rooms for the police officers. The Plain Dealer explained, “the interior of the building is designed for minimum of maintenance: walls and floors are tiled and will require no paint.” The building cost $628,325 with another $52,000 spent on landscaping, paving the lot and drives, and new furnishings.
In 2008, the Division of Police re-organized from six to five police districts. The Third District Headquarters moved from 2001 Payne to the former Fifth District Headquarters at 10507 Chester Avenue.
The current Fifth District, created in the 2008 reorganization, is now headquartered in the former Sixth District building, at 881 E. 152nd Street. In 2015, a newly constructed building located at 4501 Chester Avenue became the home of the Third District Headquarters and the original Fifth District building was demolished in January of 2020.