Clarence William “Sid” Caesar


  • Cincinnati Police Specialist
  • Cincinnati Police Division’s First Criminalist
  • Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society’s First Co-Chairman

For a full account of the life, career, death and legacy of Specialist Caesar, see Hail Caesar! in our LEGENDS page.



Cid was born November 12, 1932. Four months after high school, on October 30, 1951, during the Korean War, Clarence joined the United States Coast Guard. He graduated from boot camp at Alameda, California and then went across the country to serve at Buffalo, New York for four months. He then attended Engineman School and served at Portsmouth, New Hampshire on destroyer escort duty out of New Beford, Massachusetts. He was honorably discharged October 29, 1954 and remained in the Coast Guard Reserves.

On July 3, 1955, Clarence joined the Cincinnati Police Division in the 32nd Recruit Class. He was promoted to Patrolman, issued Badge 777, and assigned to District 1 (1024 York Street). On January 7, 1957, he was rotated to District 2 (314 Broadway). On May 15, 1966, as a result of the first promotional exam given for a new rank, Patrolman Caesar was promoted to Police Specialist and issued Badge PS-77 and assigned to plainclothes investigations in District 2.

After working predominantly in the West End for 12 years, Specialist Caesar transferred to the Identification Section on September 10, 1967. On March 21, 1971, he transferred to the Robbery Squad. On December 29, 1971, Special Caesar was elected Chaplain of the local lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police. He was re-elected in 1973.

Having already earned a distinct reputation, he was one of two law enforcement officers, on September 14, 1975, loaned to Dr. Frank Cleveland, Hamilton County Coroner, to set up a new Hamilton County Forensics Laboratory. Delaware Chief Medical Examiner, National Association of Medical Examiners Past President, called it one of the best he had ever seen. On December 1, 1977, Specialist Caesar was assigned to the Homicide Squad as a detective, but also its forensics expert. On April 18, 1978, a nine-man, multijurisdictional task force, including Specialist Caesar, was established for the purpose investigating the murders of eight women in the Greater Cincinnati area. When a New Jersey businessman was found murdered at the Red Roof Inn in Columbia Township, Sheriff Lincoln Stokes called Cincinnati specifically for Specialist Caesar’s assistance. On February 18, 1985, Specialist Caesar was honored by the Cincinnati Exchange Club as Police Officer of the Year for the Year 1984. As part of his citation, they noted his ability to put himself in place of the perpetrator, find clues, and lift fingerprints from wood, metal, glass, paper, a potato chip bag, and papers from a discarded toilet.

On August 13, 1976 Detective Caesar completed a three-week Administrative Advanced Latent Fingerprint training at the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy. In 1980, Specialist Caesar was one of the first two law enforcement officers in the country to pass an international test certifying him as a latent fingerprint examiner.

On January 14, 1982, the prestigious Hamilton County Police Association recognized him at the Annual Banquet for his dedication and expertise in fingerprint identification in the Greater Cincinnati region.

On September 28, 1980, after a man viciously raped and bludgeoned to death a 20-year-old female and left no evidence but a palm print, Specialist Caesar asked the Identification Section to start taking palm prints of everyone arrested for vice, theft, or violent offenses. On February 26, 1982, he found the suspect’s palm print and later convicted him.

When serial murderers Alton Coleman and Debra Denise Brown came to town and started killing people in Norwood and Mt. Auburn, it was Specialist Caesar who found prints and evidence at each scene. Assistant United States Attorney Dan K. Webb reported, “We are convinced that prosecution (in Ohio) can most quickly and most likely result in the swiftest imposition of the death penalty against Alton Coleman and Debra Brown”. Both were convicted.

Specialist Caesar retired in February 1985 and came back as a Criminalist in the newly established Criminalistics Unit of the Criminal Investigations Section. He was issued Badge CR-1. On March 22, 1987 Cid was promoted to a new classification of Senior Criminalist.

In August 1989, Cid joined several others to form the board of directors for the newly established and named, Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society, with the stated intention of opening a Greater Cincinnati Police Museum. He was elected Co-Chairman of the Board. The Greater Cincinnati Police Museum opened in 2006 and due largely to Cid’s efforts, by 2010, became the largest police museum, by archive and artifact count, in the United States. By 2024, Trip Advisor named it the No. 1 of 362 things to do in Greater Cincinnati.

On August 12, 1993, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported on the innovative technology of Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), and of course interviewed Senior Criminalist Caesar. No one knew more than Caesar about the drudgery and time consumption of searching for a single fingerprint among millions. AFIS could do it in minutes. And fingerprints were still the top identifying forensic in his mind. DNA was good, but there was no DNA database like the millions of fingerprints. On July 16, 1994, The Cincinnati Post spotlighted him again, and again had him recite his best cases for their report.

About 2001, Criminalist Caesar was diagnosed with a melanoma. He continued to work through the disease and chemotherapy treatments. By 2008, he had served his country, city, and county 56¼ years, almost 40½ years of which were as a forensics expert. He had received 70 letters of appreciation and/or commendation. He had been involved in almost every major criminal investigation in the past 50 years. He escorted the “Cincinnati Strangler,” Posteal Laskey, in 1966, to get his inked fingerprints. He collected the evidence in 1984 that sent Alton Coleman to the electric chair in 2002. He put Debra Denise Brown in prison with a fingerprint on a Michael Jackson button. He assisted Salt Lake City with the conviction of serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin.

Mayor Mark Mallory proclaimed February 17, 2008 “Cid Caesar Day.”

His wife and children attended the proclamation ceremony. Cid had been admitted to a hospital on February 3rd, then into hospice care. He died at 7:50 a.m. on February 20, 2008 at the age of 75.



In yet another editorial, Peter Bronson, Managing Editor of The Cincinnati Enquirer, spoke eloquently of Specialist/Criminalist Caesar entitled “Cid Caesar was his own CSI before CSI was cool – and he was the best.” Bronson described him as an ordinary man who did extraordinary things for his city. Former Fraternal Order of Police President James Frohn said of him, “He’d never say anything bad about anyone, and nobody I know of would say anything bad about him. Captain Andrew Raabe, Criminal Investigation Section Commander, advised, “He was a legend when I started, and I have 30 years in!” The editorial ended with, “Oh hell! He’s the best there is.”

Such was his reputation of interagency, intercounty, interstate cooperation, the Hamilton County Police Association created a third major award given at their annual banquet called the “Clarence “Cid” Caesar Award” for an “investigation demonstrating interagency cooperation.”