The Lex (Latin for “law”), was the first official vessel for the Cleveland Police Ports and Harbors Unit when the unit was redeployed in 1963. (The Harbor Unit, originally established in 1914, was disbanded in the 1930s.) It was designed by Cleveland Police Lieutenant John “Jack” Delaney, the first officer in charge of the new Ports & Harbors Unit.
Launched in 1963, the Lex, a 30-foot 1956 Steel Clipper powered by two 216 hp. Grays diesel engines, was built by the Inland Seas Boat Company of Sandusky, Ohio. The craft could drive at a maximum of 40 MPH. The Plain Dealer enthused, the Ports and Harbor Unit would “use the new craft in chasing speeders, discouraging waterfront violence and in rescue work.”
“During its first season, the Lex officers made 15 arrests, most of them for violation of water-skiing regulations. They checked hundreds of boats for safety equipment.” The men “investigate drownings, aid in recovering bodies, airplanes and automobiles that fall in the water…and recover submerged evidence.”
The Lex was placed in dry dock for several years in the late 1960s, but it returned to service and continued to patrol the waters of Lake Erie until the Ports and Harbor Unit was permanently disbanded in November of 2003. Members of the Cleveland Police Historical Society and Museum vintage vehicle committee, with help from generous community members, recently moved the Lex (twice!) and it now rests in an environmentally safe storage facility. The Vehicle Committee hopes to restore the Lex for display at the museum.