Toledo Police Blotters and the City Jail
This photo taken of Officers William West and Robert Pribe in the late 1960s shows a police blotter open in front of them.
Cells on both side of the hall
Last day of operation, closing the doors on women's cell block on the fourth floor of the Safety Building, June 17, 1977
Cells on both side of the hall
Safety Building Jail Photos
Construction of Lucas County Corrections Center
Toledo City Jail-Lucas County Jail Newspaper Articles
Old style mug shot
Arch from“Lucas County Power Station” which was located at the jail was moved to 222 Main Street on the east side of Toledo.
A police blotter is a register of people arrested and booked into jail. The Toledo Police took physical custody of their blotters from the Bowling Green State University Jerome Library’s Center for Archival
Collections in early 2017. They were housed in the Safety Building until 2021, when do to concerns for their preservation, they were transferred to the Ward M Canaday Center for Special Collections at the University of Toledo. Click here to view the Blotter Index.
The set is complete from April 1, 1872, through Dec. 15, 1971. No evidence of any records have been located for the police department’s first five years or from 1972 to 1977 when the city contracted with Lucas County to house prisoners in the newly built county jail.
The Toledo Police Department maintained the city jail in the police station from April 27, 1867,when the department was officially established, until May-June of 1977. As the city grew, so did the department, and so did it's need for space.
The first police station was at 58 Monroe Street. The jail where prisoners were detained was in the rear of the police station. The jail was described at the time as “wanting in dimensions, poorly ventilated, badly located and inconvenient.”
The police station at 58 Monroe Street was vacated on February 28, 1872 and 26 men moved into the new police station at Market Space, the name given to the area of Superior Street between Washington and Monroe Streets. The city prison was located on the first floor along with the turnkey’s room, lodger’s room, engine room and room for the care of sick and injured persons. "In connection with this room is the padded cell, in which are confined insane and persons suffering from the effects of strong drinks. It is so constructed that it is impossible for them to do injury to themselves, and is greatly admired by officers from abroad, where they have no such facilities."
In 1892, fire engine house #1, at 612 Lagrange Street (at Swan Lane), was purchased to be used as a police substation. A women's jail was created there with its own set of blotters.
The new Safety Building at 525 N. Erie Street, which had taken over two years to build, was open for business on May 16, 1926. All prisoners held in the 80-year-old Central Police Station on Superior Street were transferred to the new building. The day prior, thousands of law-abiding citizens toured the Safety Building, expressing their approval of the new quarters. The fourth floor housed a kitchen, the women’s jail and women’s bureau offices. The fifth floor housed the men’s jail. A special elevator (the current prisoner elevator) was manned by Patrolman William Young and was used for prisoners only. Prisoners were taken from the top floor to the sub-basement, where they were taken through a long “bridge of sighs,” a tunnel with doors only at either end. The tunnel led to an enclosed stairway, which in turn led to a “bull pen” located outside the courtroom.
On June 17, 1977, fourteen women were booked into the new Lucas County Jail when the women’s jail, located on the fourth floor of the Safety Building, ceased operation. This ended the familiar radio transmission, “One for four.” The women’s jail had a prisoner capacity of 30 women, two to a cell. There were three additional cells for intoxicated prisoners or for those who needed safekeeping. Nine matrons and one policewoman were assigned to the jail, usually working two to a shift. Male prisoners remained at the Safety Building jail a while longer until construction of the Lucas County Jail was complete.
These blotters are priceless documents providing a fascinating glimpse back in time. An effort to digitize these books has begun but the work is demanding and time consuming due to the size of the books and the incredible volume of information in each one.
Click here for Toledo Blade article on the blotters.