A message from the Chief of Police regarding the recent pipe bomb incidents.
During the past several days, our residents, particularly in the southwestern section of the township (often referred to as Megargee Heights), have endured reports of pipe bombs in their neighborhoods. It’s important for me to take this opportunity to ensure the community that we are doing everything in our power, in concert with our partnering law enforcement agencies, to identify the person(s) responsible and to restore a sense of normalcy to the lives of our families and businesses. We’ve received numerous calls from concerned citizens, many wondering if it’s safe to go outside. While the nonstop investigative work that occurs behind the scenes is not always readily apparent, residents can expect to see a significant increased police presence in an effort to alleviate some of their concerns and anxiety, and as a proactive measure to deter any further acts of this nature. This investigation is our number one priority.
Police departments strike a fine balance between providing specific details of a case, while at the same time trying to protect the integrity of an ongoing investigation. Regardless, we have the responsibility to make the public aware of situations that threaten their safety, and not withhold information that could potentially place them at an even greater risk and/or add to their fears. At this point in the investigation we have no information to indicate that these acts are targeted at a specific individual or group of individuals. Nonetheless, our investigators will follow all leads to determine motive and to bring those responsible to justice. Additionally, while we have been describing these devices as “pipe” bombs, they were not actually constructed of metal or plastic pipe. Nonetheless, their appearance is similar and the devices that we recovered were capable of causing serious injury or death, and property damage.
In the meantime, please go about your daily routines with an added sense of vigilance for anything that seems unusual or suspicious. Trust your senses and call 911 even if the information seems trivial to you. Serious crimes are often solved based on tips from the public that allow police to connect the dots. I’ve spoken to several individuals this week who have heard the term “pipe bomb” but have never seen one, or even a photo of one. While not all pipe bombs appear exactly alike, please share the photos of the devices we recovered with your friends, neighbors, and children, so that one of these devices aren’t picked up or handled by anyone other than law enforcement or a trained bomb technician. The device that was discovered at Olive Street and 14th Avenue had a partial fuse that could have been lit by someone (particularly a child), and exploded, tragically resulting in death or serious injury. The actor(s) responsible for depositing the device at that location had lit the fuse but it extinguished before the device detonated.
We continue to stress the “See Something, Say Something” approach. Our department is operating on high alert, so please call 911 if you detect something suspicious or encounter a similar device. Please don’t attempt to handle it. You will be placing yourself and others at risk.
Joseph G. Elias
Chief of Police
***UPDATE - January 22, 2020***
On January 22, 2020 a caller reported an explosion in the area of the railroad underpass, at S. Caln Road and Olive Street, which occurred on Monday, January 20, 2020, around 3:00PM, approximately 24 hours before a postal carrier located an undetonated pipe bomb at 14th Avenue and Olive Street. The caller reported it to police after reading news reports of the pipe bomb that was discovered on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.
Responding officers located a device near the railroad underpass that appears to have been detonated. No property damage in the area of the device was discernible. Both devices appear to be “homemade” and similar in size and construction. The locations are approximately ½ mile apart. Today, officers were again on location and have expanded their search of the area.
Police strongly encourage residents “who see something, to say something”, and to immediately call 911 if they observe a suspicious device. Please do not attempt to handle the device and maintain an extra safe distance. Only trained bomb technicians should render an explosive device safe.
Investigators have not identified a motive or suspects, and are asking anyone with information to contact the Caln Township Police Department at 610-383-1821.
Photo of device located by officers on January 22, 2020:
January 21, 2020
The Caln Township Police Department is investigating the discovery of a pipe bomb at 2:40PM today near the southwest corner of the intersection of 14th Avenue and Olive Street in the west end of the township.
A postal carrier observed the device and contacted police. Officers, with the assistance of fire police, established a containment zone pending arrival of the Montgomery County Bomb Squad. An off-duty FBI bomb technician also assisted at the scene.
The Bomb Squad took possession of the device, which appeared to be "homemade". The Criminal Investigation Division of the Caln Township Police Department is investigating. Anyone with information is asked to call 610-383-1821.
The recipient of this year’s Officer of the Year award is Officer Laura Ashe. She was the unanimous choice, based on established criteria and nominations submitted by the sergeants and lieutenant, for the following accomplishments that bring tremendous credit to her and reflect very favorably on the department:
Year to date, Officer Ashe has out-performed the majority of her peers in all significant performance categories. Officer Ashe is currently ranked first in felony and misdemeanor arrests for the patrol division. She currently ranks in the top 20% in traffic enforcement and the top 25% in summary arrests. These statistics demonstrate Officer Ashe’s consistently high level of performance in her most basic job function – enforcing the law. Officer Ashe’s efforts have undoubtedly contributed to enhanced public safety, crime prevention, and traffic accident mitigation; the most basic and critical roles of the police profession.
Additionally, Officer Ashe has taken on a host of additional duties which demonstrate her commitment to community policing and enhanced police/community relations, namely in light of the current national environment. Officer Ashe has served as the department’s National Night Out coordinator for the past three years, resulting in national recognition in 2014, 2015 and 2016. In March, she co-hosted “Coffee with a Cop” with the Pennsylvania State Police at the Thorndale Dunkin Donuts. Her civility and communications skills, and the manner in which she engages the public, far exceeds the highest standards of police officer performance.
In May, Officer Ashe befriended a young child who had been a victim of bullying at school. She took the time to engage this child, who suffers from developmental disabilities, and left him feeling very good about himself. The child’s mother could not say enough positive things about Officer Ashe, and her post on Facebook brought Officer Ashe’s actions into the national spotlight. Officer Ashe then surprised the child when she attended his graduation from pre-school at the local YMCA. This fall, at the family’s request, Officer Ashe attended a “meet & greet” at the West Bradford Elementary School for the child’s first day of class. Her selfless actions have created a life-long admirer of police and law enforcement, and have gone a long way in exposing young children to true professional law enforcement while creating a real-life role model for young girls.
Officer Ashe has also taken the lead and coordinated and participated in three crime prevention presentations at local banks, including First Niagara (now Key Bank), PNC Bank and Citadel Federal Credit Union. Her presentations on ID Theft and Fraud prevention were well received by bank management and customers. Her services are now in high demand from other banks to make similar presentations. Her efforts in the area of crime prevention are second-to-none.
In October, Officer Ashe participated in the DEA Drug Take Back event hosted at one of our CVS pharmacies. These events are extremely popular with the public, and are vital in removing unwanted prescription medications from our homes and communities, before they fall into the wrong hands and contribute to the drug epidemic that is sweeping our nation. During October, she also represented the police department at the Thorndale Volunteer Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Open House, where she demonstrated our support for our volunteer firefighters during the annual “Cookies for a Cop and Fire Friends Week”.
Officer Ashe organized the creation of the police officer baseball trading cards, and frequently contributes positive posts and information to the department’s Facebook page. Likewise, she orchestrated our participation in the Toys for Tots Program, is working with the Coatesville Youth Initiative on a mentoring program, and has enthusiastically embraced the concept of a Citizens Police Academy. In November, Officer Ashe volunteered to participate in the first Chester County Disproportionate Minority Contact – Coatesville Youth & Law Enforcement Forum. This event is a critical step in developing positive relations between minority youth of the Coatesville area and local police.
Officer Ashe is an extremely positive individual with an amazing willingness and eagerness to work with our businesses and residents to ensure a better community and brighter future for all. Her selfless efforts are tireless and inspirational. Most importantly she manages to perform these additional duties, with enthusiasm and without complaint, while maintaining a high standard of performance in her primary responsibility of patrol. She is a role model for her peers, and widely respected by her superiors, the public, and the law enforcement community.
In addition to her regular patrol duties, Officer Ashe is a Traffic Accident Reconstructionist, Traffic Safety Analyst, Warrant Control Officer, member of the Drug Task Force, certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, certified Bike Patrol Officer, Social Media Coordinator, and in 2016 she was named the department’s Community Relations Officer. She will be formally recognized as the recipient of the 2016 Officer of the Year award at an upcoming Board of Commissioners meeting in early 2017.