Dover police in the 1930s and ‘40s
When Dover incorporated as a village in 1911, a police force was organized consisting of a town marshal, elected every two years, and deputies appointed on an as-needed basis by the marshal and the mayor. The deputies were paid a commission for each arrest and conviction – a system that was ripe for corruption.
The ad hoc deputies were eventually replaced by salaried police officers and by the 1930s, Dover Village had five police officers and a Ford Model-A coupe cruiser.
Law and order in the village
In the mid to late 1930s, Hilliard was just a two-lane country road with only three to four houses between Bradley Road and the Rocky River line. Since the road was practically deserted, many motorists were tempted to step on the gas as they drove through the village. Dover police became known for nabbing speeders, often hiding behind trees and barns along the road. In 1938, a Cleveland newspaper published a story warning motorists about the Dover speed traps.
The police also took a hard line with amorous young couples. While other communities overlooked the practice, Dover’s policemen issued tickets to couples sitting in cars with no headlights on. Driving down a farm road looking for a secluded spot could earn a trespassing charge. In either case, the driver would be taken to jail unless he could post bond. Parked couples caught in an embrace when officers arrived faced a $31.40 fine for “disorderly conduct in the public view.”
Dover’s men in blue also had a few serious incidents during this time period. In the mid-thirties, they were called to Bradley Road to resolve a dispute on a Works Progress Administration project. Several WPA workers had barricaded themselves in a tool shed on the work site, and to be removed by the police.
In March 1939, Dover police were called to the Elzona Tavern at 23575 Detroit Road (where Buca di Beppo now stands). An argument between a man and his ex-girlfriend had reached a boiling point, and the man fired his gun. His shot missed the woman, but he was struck by a policeman’s bullet. It wasn’t a serious wound, and he was arrested and charged with attempted murder.
In the 1940s, the police force lost a few good men, but gained a few “best friends.” Some of the village’s police officers were called into military service during World War II, creating a manpower shortage. The owner of Beach Cliff Kennels stepped in and donated three German shepherd puppies to the police. After a few months of training together, the “canine corps” began regular patrols with the police in 1942.