Richard J. Ellwood Sr

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Richard J. Ellwood Sr

P/O Richard J. Ellwood Sr joined the Baltimore City Police Department in 1939. He was thirty-four years old when he joined, probably a little older than most who joined the department in their early twenties. He may have felt a little pressure from his father-in-law, who was a cop, and his brother-in-law also on the force.

When P/O Ellwood Sr finished his initial police training, he was assigned to the Central District. This is ironic as many years later his son Sgt Richard J. Ellwood Jr. would follow in his father’s footsteps, and he too would spend his first days in uniform assigned to the Central District, as did Sgt Richard J. Ellwood Jr’s brother, Sgt John Ellwood, who was also assigned to the Central District when he joined the department.

To get the true picture of why we feel Richard J. Ellwood Sr belongs in our Hall of Fame, and why he was considered a legend to his sons, and so many others you have to understand what it meant to a neighborhood back in those days to have a police officer living amongst them.

In those days a police officer was revered. It was as if he was the sheriff of a small town. He was expected to have all the answers when asked by the neighbors about things like problems with their kids, marital problems, sanitation problems, parking tickets, and many more very mundane issues. Oh yeah… he was the guy who was called when someone died in the neighborhood. I know this sounds crazy but it’s true… P/O Richard J. Ellwood Sr would get calls or people would just knock on the door when they needed him, regardless of the time. His family used to kid P/O Ellwood Sr that when a man in the neighborhood passed away, you would see him wearing what appeared to be a new suit.

I don’t think he ever turned anyone down that wanted his help. In the summer when it was very hot, the family would sit out on their marble steps, sometimes very late into the night. People used to come to P/O Ellwood Sr asking if they could talk to him. Sometimes they would take him to the side to talk; sometimes they would just talk in front of his family. His family consisted of three daughters, two sons and his wife. The marble steps were crowded.

The favors or questions that the neighbors asked, always got an answer…you see, P/O Ellwood Sr had a great knowledge on many facets of city government. The neighborhood had several men that were involved in city government; P/O Ellwood Sr knew where to go to get things done.

P/O Ellwood Sr helped some of the men in the neighborhood get on the police department. He knew the chief physician for the department. His son Sgt Ellwood Jr knew first-hand that a few of the men that got on the police department, got on because of his dad. He knew this because years later they told him how it had all happened.

There was one guy that Sgt Ellwood Jr remembered coming by their house and asking for his dad’s help in getting him on the job…his name Sgt Ellwood Jr could never forget… it was, Francis Xavier Donahue. He was probably twenty-one at the time, but he didn’t look his age. He appeared to be very shy when he approached P/O Ellwood Sr.

Donahue was a not a tall man; he stood about five feet six inches tall. On his first try to get on the department, he was told he was too short. Sgt Ellwood Jr said he remembered him talking to his father and was very disappointed that he failed on his first try. P/O Ellwood Sr told him that he would talk to the police physician. He later told Donahue that when he gets called back for another chance that he should stand on his tippy toes when being measured for his height.

Well, many years later when Sgt Ellwood Jr reported to the Central District, he met the then Sergeant Francis Xavier Donahue. Sergeant Donahue pulled the young Sgt Ellwood Jr. aside and told him that his father was the reason Sgt Donahue was a cop. 

P/O Ellwood Sr touched many lives during his career with the Baltimore Police Department. He worked in the foot traffic unit for his last seventeen years. His assigned corner was Baltimore Street and South Street. He knew everyone in that area, and they all knew and loved him. When Sgt Ellwood Jr was a young boy, his father would sometimes take him to meet people in the area of "his corner".

Richard J. Ellwood Sr was not a medal of honor recipient, or even a highly decorated police officer. He did not get promoted during his career with the department, but what he was, was what most people see as what the true meaning of a police officer should be: he was dedicated, loyal, honest, faithful, righteous, church going, true blue and of course, the best husband, and father, anyone would ever want. 

Not only did Richard J. Ellwood Sr serve and protect the city, but he served as a role model, and example to a point that he raised two sons that admired their father so much that they would also go on to take the oath and follow in their dad’s footsteps to serve and protect the residents of Baltimore City, and for that, The Baltimore City Police Historical Society is adding him to our Police Officer’s Hall of Fame.

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A list of Richard Ellwood Sr's family that were members of the Baltimore Police Department

P/O Dick Ellwood Sr. (Father to Dick Ellwood Jr. & John Ellwood)
Sgt. John Ellwood (Brother of Dick Ellwood Sr. - Son/Dick Ellwood Jr.)
Sgt. Dick Ellwood Jr.(son of Dick Ellwood Sr./brother to John Ellwood)
Det. David Ellwood (son of Dick Ellwood Jr.)

Capt. John Dunn (Grandfather to Dick Ellwood JR. & John Ellwood)
Lt. Ed Dunn (Uncle to Dick Ellwood & John Ellwood)
Edward Dunn (Father)
Michael Dunn (Son)
Paul Dunn, (Son) 
Officer James T. Dunn (

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