Patrick J. Clarke - Bratenahl Police Chief 1912 to 1948

9901 Foster Avenue
Patrick Clarke 1908

Liberty Holden brought Patrick Clarke, a policeman in Lancashire, England, to the United States to join the Bratenahl police force on September 4, 1908.

Patrick received his police training with what he considered the best police force in the entire world, the Royal Irish Constabulary.  He joined the constabulary because it was the only thing a young man could do unless he went to America or the English colonies. He was proud that he still could recite the 72 Irish statutes he learned as a young police officer.

Clarke had a commanding personality. He regarded police work as a highly-skilled profession, if not fine art. His regard for thoroughness carried over to the Bratenahl police force. He insisted that his policemen knew the law and be thorough in all things.

The Bratenahl Public Safety Committee reported in 1912 that there were too many chiefs directing the police force. They recommended an officer in full charge be called lieutenant of police and subject only to the elected marshall's orders. The council approved Patrick Clark as Lieutenant of Police. Four years later, the title changed to the captain of the police.

One of Captain Clarke’s outstanding feats occurred in 1917 when he singlehandedly broke up a railroad strike riot that had killed four men. He boarded a train on which strikers and strikebreakers were battling. He arrested two ringleaders, which stopped the riot.

In 1918, Clarke became chief of police, still reporting to the marshal. He oversaw a department of eighteen men.

Prohibition during the 1920s provided the police with additional problems. The inlets at the creek mouths in Bratenahl became perfect landing sites for booze smuggled out of Canada. Chief Clarke had a keen awareness of the importance of his community's citizenry and a willingness to accommodate some of their defiance of prohibition.

Their biggest job was still checking the homes of the Village and handling rowdies. Also, the department had to control a tremendous volume of traffic relative to the small size of the Village.

Chief Clarke was a strict but kindly disciplinarian and interested personally in each member of his small force. Each man was schooled in the may duties incumbent in the Village. The chief was proud that any one of the police officers could quote the law. Every police officer was thoroughly examined twice a month.

Patrick Clarke 1928
Patrick Clarke 1928

In 1921, the police force was reduced to 14 men, which roughly worked out to one policeman for every 67 village residents. By 1930, there were just nineteen burglaries in Bratenahl under Clarke's leadership. Arrests and convictions followed Seventeen of those.

The elected position of marshall was eliminated in 1942 by Ohio statutory law. The mayor appointed Patrick Clarke as marshal as well as chief of police.

A fifty-four-year-old Captain Clarke celebrated his 25th anniversary as a member of the Bratenahl police force at a surprise party given in his honor at the Cleveland Athletic Club by neighbors and colleagues.

Mayor Edward Foote presented Clarke with a gold watch in recognition of his services. Among guests were the United States Senator Robert Bulkley, Cleveland Municipal Judge Joseph Smith as well as several members of the Bratenahl police force.

Clarke had seen his force increase from three to the then present staff of 22. He had been serving his third consecutive term as president of the Ohio Police Chiefs Association.

Patrick Leo Clarke was born on January 18, 1880, and brought up in County Louth, Ireland. Few people knew that his middle name was Leo since he customarily used “J’ as his middle initial. The "J" stood for Joseph, which some considered more appropriate for a good Catholic Irishman.

Patrick married Mary Ann Berry. They had three children: Sarah born around 1904, Delia was born on May 1, 1908, and a son Francis.  Both Sarah and Delia attended Bratenahl School.

After studying nights for many months at home and the John Marshall Law School, Clarke graduated as an attorney and admitted to the Ohio bar. He practiced in Cleveland for several years, beginning in 1924. He claimed the distinction of being chief and public prosecutor at the same time.

As president of the Ohio Police Chiefs' Association, he sponsored a bill to institute regional police schools throughout the state. He was mostly responsible for the formation of the Police Pension and Relief Fund and spent many hours in Columbus working for its success.

A profoundly religious man, the chief attended Sunday mass at St. Aloysius' Catholic Church without fail and frequently on workdays before going to work. He was active in the affairs of the church and a councilman there for years. Clarke was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Anchor Club.

Mary died in 1942. A sixty-eight-year-old Chief Patrick Clarke died on June 15, 1948, of a heart attack while eating dinner at his 9901 Foster Avenue home. He was buried alongside Mary in Calvary Cemetery.

Patrick Clarke was a good friend to the community and dedicated forty years of service to the Bratenahl Police Department. A Memorial Resolution was adopted by the council expressing their appreciation of the loyal and conscientious service of Chief Clarke.


Patrick Leo Clarke was born in Ireland, January 18, 1880. After careful training in police duties in the Royal Irish Constabulary and later with agencies in England, he came to this country. Very soon thereafter, he began his work with the Bratenahl Police Department, where he continued forty years of uninterrupted service. He rose rapidly from patrolman to sergeant and then to the position of chief.

Chief Clarke possessed a most active mind and a retentive memory. He was always interested in improving his work and doing everything possible to make his department increasingly efficient. He, with this thought in mind, entered upon the study of law and was later admitted to the Ohio Bar.

He knew Bratenahl and its people and its history better, possibly than any other resident of the Village. He was more than the chief of police. He was a friend to all, young and old and from all walks of life. He was kind and considerate, giving most freely of his time and talents in helping others and in making Bratenahl a better place in which to live. Anyone desiring information on any matter pertaining to the Village, since its organization, could find a ready answer in Chief Clarke. He grew up with the Village, and he knew it.

Chief Clarke was, during his forty years with his department, a loyal public servant. His entire fore grew up with him. He impressed upon them the importance of care and exactness. His discipline was firm but kindly.

His wife preceded him in death five years ago. Upon his death on June 15, 1948, he left two surviving daughters and a son to whom he was devoted. He was a loyal member of his church, attending its services regularly.

Not only Bratenahl Village but also the entire Greater Cleveland and a host of his friends have, by reason of his death, suffered the loss of a fine character and a true friend.