Police Training: You’re Under Arrest, 1930s style!

Beginning in 1937, Safety Director Eliot Ness established the first formal Cleveland Police Training Academy patterned after the training facility run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, DC.  The new academy was housed in an old fire house at 1283 Riverbed Street, formerly the home of the fire tug George A. Wallace.  Lieutenant Patrick J. Lenahan developed the curriculum and was the first Cleveland Police Officer to graduate from the FBI National Academy.

One example of the training techniques used at that time is the following, a step by step guide on how to conduct a stop of multiple suspects in a moving vehicle, then conduct a search of the suspects and finally how to place them in custody.   These glass slide negatives were originally developed in the Police Photo Laboratory under the direction of George Koestle, the Superintendent of Criminalistics. None of the Officers in the photographs have been identified. In 2019, staff from Freedman Center at Case Western Reserve University’s Kelvin Smith Library digitized these and other glass plate negatives from the Cleveland Police Museum’s collection.

No. 1 Overtaking a Suspects Car
No. 2 Brought to a Stop
No. 3 Officers are Taking No Foolish Chances
No. 4 Appears as Tho’ the Last Suspect is Leaving the Car

No. 5 Making Sure the Car is Safe
No. 6 Systematic Search Begins with the First Pair
No. 7 First Pair Secured
No. 8 Second Pair Searched (Proved Fruitful)

No. 9 Second Pair Searched and Ready to Be Secured
No. 10 All Secured and Ready for the “Ride” to Headquarters
No. 11 A Close-Up of Four Prisoners Secured Jointly With Two Sets of Handcuffs

Written by Cleveland Police Historical Society and Museum volunteer Commander Robert Cermak, Ret.