After 30 years with the Chicago Police Department, Lt. Tom McNicholas recently retired. McNicholas served for 22 years here in Beverly/Morgan Park with the 22nd District. His CPD career started at the 6th District where he served in a beat car and on the tactical team. From there, McNicholas went to the 12th District for a year. He promoted to Sergeant, then assigned to the 22nd District, which is where he and his family live, and where he raised his kids, two girls and a boy.
“It’s nice to know what’s going on in your neighborhood and to have an effect on that,” McNicholas said. Spending most of his career working in his home district gave McNicholas a chance to help his neighbors avoid becoming crime victims by learning to be proactive and alert to what’s going on around them.
His advice to community residents: “Shut the garage door at night.”
Sharing the insight and knowledge accrued from his many years of experience was a pivotal part of McNicholas’s work ethic. That commitment helped fellow officers to be better prepared as they embarked on new assignments or faced new challenges. Being a police officer is not just about being a crime fighter, McNicholas said. “You also have to be a teacher,” he added, explaining that knowing how to get the job done right and find ways to solve problems makes for better and safer outcomes for everyone.
“The most difficult thing to learn in this job is how to have a calm demeanor in a stressful situation while you’re trying to figure out what needs to be done,” he said.
McNicholas spent much of his career at the 22nd District as a desk sergeant, working at the station and on the street. McNicholas was promoted to Lieutenant in 2004, was at a different district for a few months, then back at 22 until his retirement. He was avid about keeping up with current laws and court cases, and was always doing research to keep up with changes in the legal system. He recalled that supervisors told him to learn one new thing every day, “and I did.”
“He’s been an incredibly dedicated member of our department and community,” said 22nd District Commander Sean Joyce.
When asked what he will miss most about the job, McNicholas said, “the general camaraderie.” He has a lot of respect for the people at the 22nd District, and said that he frequently heard positive feedback from area residents. “Lots of people want you to know they’re thankful,” he said. “We have a lot of very experienced officers who do a fantastic job; they are always there to help.”
McNicholas said that his plans for retirement include “trying to learn to relax” and working security as sports events.