Longtime Temple Police officer and community advocate Captain Eileen Bradley remembers the adversity she faced as one of the first female officers in Philadelphia to patrol the streets in 1972.
“They were very wary about putting [women] on the streets,” Bradley said. “We did really well in the academy, and I think they were kind of shocked.”
Bradley’s time with the department recently came full circle when TUPD surprised her with a mural at the department’s station on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 16th Street on April 10 honor her decades of service to the community.
“I was shocked,” Bradley said. “I don’t like all this publicity. I feel that some of these neighbors are my friends. They call me, and I’ve been in their homes. We really are friends. We have a lot of good people around here.”
Bradley no longer patrols the streets, but that hasn’t stopped her from strengthening her relationship with North Philadelphia residents. Now, she works as a community liaison, meeting with residents on a monthly basis to hear their concerns. She also has the opportunity to take on special projects within the department.
At most community meetings, residents bring up issues with trash and noise, but now they also discuss new concerns like gentrification and the stadium.
“The people that are concerned about the stadium don’t live here,” Bradley said. “I’ll be very honest with you. I’m not a political kind of person. It’s not my issue. My issue is to just make sure we have good relationships with our neighbors.”
Through her work in TUPD’s community relations team, Bradley continues meeting with community residents by planning the department’s outreach events, like Avenue of Treats — an event in October that provides a safe place for kids to trick-or-treat — an annual Christmas party, local school visits and neighborhood barbecues.
Monica Hankins-Padilla, the external relations coordinator for TUPD, knows the effect Bradley has on the community.
“The name Captain Eileen Bradley is something that definitely rings in the ears as the person to contact if you have any questions about how to navigate issues in the community,” said Hankins-Padilla, who was a part of the team that surprised Bradley with the mural. “She’s the go-to for community complaints, trash, nuisance, damage to people’s property. You name it.”
“Something people don’t really know is that she’s helped so many students over the years graduate,” Hankins-Padilla added. “She’s not a miracle worker, but if you need to start looking for one, she’s the person people go to.”
The mural displays photos dating back to the department’s inception. Bradley is prominently featured in several photos, alongside her fellow officers and community residents.
Hankins-Padilla said it was difficult to hide the mural from Bradley because she is so involved with the department.
“I was like, ‘Oh gosh, how do we keep her off our tracks?’” Hankins-Padilla said. “That was the hard part, but it was really rewarding.”
Milton Pollard lives near the corner of Berks and Bovier. He worked closely with Bradley to complete a community mural on Bouvier Street back in 2015. The mural, which accompanied a community garden, replaced what was a vacant lot.
“She was very instrumental in the mural project,” Pollard said. “If it wasn’t for her, there wouldn’t have been a mural.”
Now, he often calls her to discuss issues like trash and community safety.
“Captain Bradley, she’s one of a kind, she’s genuine,” he added. “If there’s an issue, problem, or meeting coming up, she’ll come around. She’s always available and you can really depend on her.”