The CLEVELAND POLICE HISTORICAL SOCIETY, INC., AND MUSEUM was founded in 1983 when a group of Cleveland police officers and interested citizens began meeting as a steering committee with the purpose of creating a police museum. Within 7 months, a nonprofit historical society, completely separate from the police department, was created and incorporated (May), and a museum was opened (June) under the society's direction.
The first president of the society, which is governed by a Board of Directors, was Robert Bolton, who was also one of the museum's founders. Florence E. Schwein was the museum's first director. The museum opened in 1200 sq. ft. of space on the first floor of the Justice Center, and in the first 7 months 3,000 visitors toured the museum. Four years after its founding, the museum remained one of only 12 in the country. It is unusual among police museums in that it involves private citizens and does not come under the control of the CLEVELAND POLICE DEPT. The museum's goal is the preservation of the history of the police department through the collection of documents and artifacts, as well as a better understanding of the role of law enforcement within the community. Exhibits include those based on public safety, famous cases, and investigative techniques, and utilize such diverse items as photographs, police equipment, firearms, motorcycles, a jail cell, and 4 Kingsbury Run Torso Murders death masks (see KINGSBURY RUN and TORSO MURDERS).
Anne T. Kmieck became museum curator in 1988. In 1995 Cmdr. Martin L. Flask became president of the historical society. In that same year the museum was operated by a staff of 2 and volunteers. Cleveland's Police Museum remains one of the few in the country and has influenced other departments to create similar museums. A Hall of Fame was begun in 1993, and a quarterly newsletter is issued.