A Day in the Life of a 1920s Patrolman

A Cleveland patrolman in the 1920s walked his beat for eight hours a day, carrying most of the equipment he needed to keep the neighborhood safe and to catch criminals.

Patrolmen were expected to “promptly and thoroughly investigate all crimes and complaints on the beats, and make a full report of their actions in all such matters to the officer in charge of the station.”

* While women worked for the Cleveland Police as matrons and later in the Women’s Bureau, they did not walk a beat

Patrolman Frank Dahlhausen #931 served with the Cleveland Police from 1923-1949

Oil Lantern
The Dietz “Flash” pattern lantern was patented in 1899 and used through the 1920s. Frank Dahlhausen carried this lantern while walking his beat.
Oil Lantern
Patrolmen pushed a lever to activate a steel curtain inside the Dietz lantern, which made the light “flash” on and off.

1921 Rules and Regulations for the Cleveland Division of Police
Rule 521 outlined the four shifts for patrolmen

Patrolmen in the 1920s had a variety of options for restraining prisoners. Each patrolman purchased their own restraints, so several types were used in Cleveland. A mechanical nipper restrained a single wrist. Once on the wrist, the patrolman would hold the handle to lead the prisoner. Chain nippers or “come alongs”, which were lighter weight and easier to carry than mechanical nippers, also worked on a single wrist.

Mechanical Nipper/Iron Claw
Mechanical nippers similar to this one were used in the 1920s.
Bullet loop and come-along chain holster for duty belt, with chain
The holster hooked onto the patrolman’s belt.  The come-along chain was used instead of handcuffs.

The Tower “single lock” and “double lock” style handcuffs and leg shackles were used for many decades, starting in the 1860s. Cleveland patrolman used the Tower handcuffs into the 1940s. Another style of handcuff was the button release style. By the 1920s, many patrolman chose to use the Peerless handcuff, which was easier to use, lighter weight and smaller in size.

Tower “Single Lock” Handcuffs
This style of handcuffs and leg irons was used by patrolmen from 1866-1940s. The innovative, adjustable design made it easier for patrolman to restrain criminals.
Tower “Double Lock” Leg Irons with Key
This style of handcuffs and leg irons was used by patrolmen from 1866-1940s. This pair was used by a Cleveland patrolman.
First Peerless model handcuff, patented in 1914
Peerless handcuff, patented in 1922 (latch patented in 1932)

Wood handcuff, “Tower Bean’s Pattern”. 1912-1930s

Police Notebook, dated 1921
Cleveland Police Detective Andrew Ryan #180 used this book to take notes. 
Police Notebook, dated 1921
Andrew Ryan #180 served from 1899-1925.

Duty Belt, 1920s
Each patrolman wore a large leather duty belt to help carry their equipment.
This belt was worn by Patrolman George Pelerth, #561, who served from 1913-1928.

Each patrolman carried a whistle and key to the call box.  They blew the whistle to alert nearby officers and used the Call Box to report to the Central Station.  A patrolman’s call box key was stamped with the his badge number and could be used to open any call box in the city.

Whistle and Call Box Key
Call box on E. 105th
Call Box

Hardwood nightstick used by William Kleinhenz. Notice the initials W. K. carved into the shaft.

Kleinhenz carved his initial W carved into the butt of the handle.

William Kleinhenz, #677, served from 1914-1942

Slap Jack
Used by Cleveland officer William Kleinhenz #677, who served from 1914-1942.

Traffic Control

Patrolmen also controlled traffic, helping to enforce the parking and driving laws of Cleveland.  Every patrolman carried the Traffic Code of the City of Cleveland and a stack of parking tickets.

Daily Bulletin for June 20, 1920
Each day, patrolmen received a list of stolen automobiles.
Traffic Code, City of Cleveland, 1924

Cleveland Parking Ticket, circa 1920

These items are on display at the Cleveland Police Museum. Exhibit compiled by Executive Director Mazie Adams.

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