Fourth District: 1938 – today

In 1938, Safety Director Eliot Ness reorganized the police force, transforming what had been eighteen precincts into five districts, which were further divided into 32 zones. The newly formed 4th District, headquartered in the former 16th Precinct Station House at 3600 East 131st Street, included territory south of Woodland Avenue and east of E. 55th to the city limits. 

This building served as the Fourth District headquarters for another thirty years.

As early as 1966, the department asked for a new home for the 4th District headquarters, to replace the “obsolete and totally inadequate” building on East 131st.  Unfortunately, the proposed location did not work out.  Three years later, Director Joseph McManamon declared the E. 131st building “an insult to the public and the service the deserve and expect from their police” and restarted planning for a new building.

October 10, 1938 Plain Dealer
Fourth District station, 3600 East 131st Street
Fourth District station, 3600 East 131st Street

Female jail cell, circa 1967-1970
Jail Cell, circa 1967-1970

Front Desk, circa 1967-1970
Police officer rest room and desk for writing up reports, circa 1967-1970

On October 1, 1968, the Plain Dealer ran a short article called The Cleveland Police: What’s on Their Mind. “It’s not the first thing they mention, but policemen soon get around to pointing out that the city’s six stations are punk places to work in. Even the newer ones.” The paper ran a number of photos of the Fourth District to illustrate this point. “Even the hippies complain,” said one Fourth District policeman.”

“Plaster is coming loose from the wall above the Fourth District sergeant’s head.” October 1, 1968 Plain Dealer
Jail cell housing recovered bicycles October 1, 1968 Plain Dealer

“Bad Score-Patrolman David R. Biehl shows how the Fourth District records its disabled vehicles. When the picture was taken a few days ago, seven cars were out of service, some as long as four months and some driven 150 to 200 thousand miles.” October 1, 1968 Plain Dealer
“Lounge for patrolmen in the Fourth District locker room” October 1, 1968 Plain Dealer

Former site of the Fourth District

The 16th Precinct/4th District at 3600 East 131st Street was torn down in ____ and remains a vacant lot.

Groundbreaking for the new station finally occurred in May of 1973 and two years later the new Fourth District Headquarters opened at 9333 Kinsman Avenue. Built by contractor Martini Construction Company, the building cost over 1.5 million dollars. A major summer storm shortly after the grand opening lead to flooding at the new headquarters, which “forced establishment of a portable communications unit” and led to “at least a dozen squad cars…submerged in water in the basement garage.”

4th District, 9333 Kinsman
4th District, 9333 Kinsman

4th District, 9333 Kinsman

4th District, 9333 Kinsman
4th District, 9333 Kinsman

The Fourth District Headquarters at 9333 Kinsman Avenue continues to serve the community today.

4th District, 9333 Kinsman

Written by Cleveland Police Historical Society and Museum Executive Director Mazie M. Adams