MATOWITZ, JAMES “JIM” G. (7 Dec. 1887 - 27 Nov. 1954) was the younger brother of Cleveland Police Chief, GEORGE MATOWITZ. Jim entered the Cleveland Police Department in April of 1913 at the age of 25, and reported immediately to the newly formed Mounted Unit, where he spent the entirety of his career.
The Cleveland Mounted Police had their origins in the First Cleveland Cavalry, which was formed in October of 1887 in response to the Great Railroad Strike. The CMP was officially established in 1911 when Police Chief Fred Kohler rented two horses from a local livery stable. Originally, George Matowitz was given command of the unit, but it was Jim who became known as the “Father of the Cleveland Mounted Unit.”
The unit became very effective in situations requiring crowd control, and brought many riots to a quick end. Horses and riders also performed an important public relations function. Seeking a distinctive look for his officers, Jim designed a special uniform patterned after that worn by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He formed a Drill Team that competed in horse shows across the country and as far away as Mexico City.
Jim served throughout the unit's heyday and in due course became the Mounted Unit's officer in charge with the rank of acting lieutenant.
In the early years of the 20th century the Mounted Unit consisted of three troops, A,B, and C.
Troop A was located downtown, Troop B at Edgewater Park, while Troop C was based in University Circle. The riders and their mounts were hand selected and trained to a very high standard. The animals were taught not to flinch in the presence of flames or gunfire.
Officers seeking assignment to the unit were subject to a personal interview with Jim. Many years later one recounted the experience:
Invited into Jim's office, a question was posed, "Why do you want to be in the Mounted Unit?"
The candidate replied, "Because I love horses."
Jim responded, "That's the right answer - report here first thing Monday morning. "
In 1948, Jim oversaw the founding of the new unit stables. The present day King-Otis Stable consolidating all three troops in one place for the first time. Jim was able to enjoy the new facility for just six years. In November 1954 while on one of his annual trips to Kentucky to buy American Saddlebred horses for the unit, he died of a heart attack closing a career that had lasted forty one years.
An honor guard of CPD horses and riders escorted him to his final resting place at Holy Cross Cemetery.
Last updated: 10/6/2023
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