Detective Sgt. Eieanor Reardon

CHICAGO CALLING: CPD Detective Sgt. Eleanor Reardon

If your mom was a cop, she would be exactly like Eleanor Reardon.

Eleanor is retired Chicago Police Detective Sergeant with 30 years on the job. She grew up in the shadow of Garfield Boulevard at 55th and Honore, in the old St. Basil’s parish, went to Queen of Peace High School and started her law enforcement career with the Cook County Department of Corrections, where she met her husband Charlie.

They have one son Patrick, once a hockey star at Mount Carmel High School, my alma mater. We share many Mount Carmel and Leo High School stories where two of my brothers matriculated. My brother Johnny was also expelled from Leo back in the late fifties. 

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She tells me: “My dad worked for Chatham Paving at 84th and Lafayette, owned by Moriartys, Carmel guys. My dad went to Leo and half my uncles went to Carmel, and the other half went to Leo.”

Eleanor always wanted to get into law enforcement.

"My grandfather was a police officer, Thomas O’Brien. His beat was walking the markets on 71st Street.”



Eleanor with Superintendent

Eleanor with Superintendent

Eleanor came on the job in 1982.

“We worked in Englewood, not a lot of females on the police then. I worked with June Helen Olsen, we came on together, ‘7-11’ that was our beat. We were the first female car in Englewood.”

Englewood ain’t Disneyland. It’s a rough neighborhood today, and was so then. They were two young white female coppers working a car in one of the most treacherous neighborhood in Chicago. I wisecrack to her: “I’ll bet you met a lot of interesting people!”

Ealeanor deadpans, “very much so…Ronald McDonald broke my nose!”

They got a 10-1 call, “Officer in Trouble” at the address of a “Domestic,” a family disturbance. Most cops will tell you, stay outta the kitchen if you’re on a domestic call, that’s where the knives are.

“He was the catalyst, Ronald, the source of the domestic. Every light in the house was blown, and we were trying to subdue him, and he reared back and head butted me.”

From the age of 26 to 33, Eleanor worked those streets.

“We had murders, all the bad stuff. It was called ‘Area 2, Violent Crimes’ when I was there. We handled one murder where the offender lived next door to the (female) victim.”

Mt. Carmel golf outing

Mt. Carmel golf outing

“His mom finally signed a consent to search the house, we were looking for his clothing. So I’m in the basement with the dog.”

Police dog?

“No, their dog. I’m lookin’ in the washer and dryer and the dog’s digging underneath a standing cabinet. The clothes were in there, his bloody clothes. So I deputized the dog!”

“He was arrested a few days later, yeah we were looking for him for a few days before we caught up with him.”

Retired now for over ten years Eleanor has not slowed down a bit. She’s involved in a variety of several charities, including, funnily enough, the Ronald McDonald House for sick children.

Eleanor with brass

Eleanor with brass

Eleanor at St. Baldrik's

Eleanor at St. Baldrik's

But the cause closest to Eleanor’s heart is Peer Support for the police department.

“I love cops and First Responders.”

“I have my grampa’s star. When I came on the job I asked my mom ‘what was grampa’s star number?’ We called all the aunts and uncles and nobody knew. After my one uncle died, my aunt called me and said, ‘Come on over here, I have something for you.’ And she found the star in my late uncle’s sock drawer. And now my cousin’s son is a police officer in the Dakotas and it will go to him when I’m gone.”

These are very tough times for our police. 

“Those officers, those kids, they need our help, they need our support. And it’s good for retirees to be in peer support. They arrive on the scene of police shootings; they talk to the officers. You just listen, they need somebody to listen and that’s what we try to do, part of the peer support, teaching them that you have to learn to support each other.”

“I had two guys who worked for me when I was a sergeant., both lost children to childhood cancer. So that’s one of the things I’m most proud of, that I was able to take care of them, during those terrible times. I’ve seen the good done for so many families, but I’ve also seen the families give back.”

Peer Support shines its light on Eleanor’s maternal instincts in action.

“I loved every minute of it, don’t regret a second,” she says proudly.