The Caln Police Department is investigating the disappearance of Nicole Marie McFadden. McFadden was under medical supervision at the time of her disappearance and was last seen on the afternoon of Sunday, 28 June 2020. McFadden is described as a 39yo white female, 5’7 tall, approximately 155lbs with a medium build, and has blond hair and blue eyes. McFadden was reportedly last seen with an unknown subject in a red Honda SUV. McFadden’s wellbeing is believed to be endangered if she does not receive medical intervention. Anyone having information on McFadden’s possible whereabouts are urged to contact the Caln Police Department Criminal Investigation Division at 610-383-1821 or 610-383-7000.
Following the senseless killing of Mr. George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers, we joined with law enforcement agencies throughout the country and abroad to openly condemn that murder and police brutality in general. We continue to support peaceful, local protests and vow to be part of the solution to effect positive change through meaningful reform.
We’ve received many inquiries from concerned citizens about our own policies and how we train our officers to mitigate a similar tragedy from occurring here. #8cantwait is a campaign that aims to bring immediate change to police departments, through the effective use of policies, in an effort to reduce the potential for harm and to save lives. While these eight (8) policies are by no means an exhaustive list, they establish a foundation to restore public trust in law enforcement. It’s my sincere hope that the Caln Township community takes comfort in knowing that our department enacted and has historically adhered to these policies long before public and political outcry and demand following the Minneapolis tragedy and other national incidents involving officer misconduct.
#1 Ban Chokeholds & Strangleholds
Our current policy specifically states that officers shall NOT employ any form of neck restraint, such as Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint (LVNR) or carotid control hold, except when an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury exists, and no other option is available. In situations involving the use of lesser levels of force, our policies address measures to avoid the potential for positional asphyxia. Our department conducts annual defensive tactics training with all sworn officers with an emphasis on de-escalation.
#2 Require De-escalation
Our training and policies require officers to take appropriate measures to avoid escalation and to de-escalate potential confrontational situations. Officers also receive crisis intervention training as part of a partnership with the community to promote officer safety and the safety of individuals in crisis, including, but not limited to, individuals suffering from drug addiction and mental disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury.
#3 Require Use of Force Continuum
Our current Use of Force, Use of Deadly Force, and Use of Force Prohibition policies require that whenever possible, the force used by officers should be progressive in nature. The use of force continuum is as follows:
Level 1 – Officer Presence
Level 2 – Verbal Direction
Level 3 – Soft Empty Hand Control (to control passive or defensive resistance)
Level 4 – Hard Empty Hand Control (defensive counter strike)
Level 5 – Intermediate Weapons (impact weapons, i.e., baton or electronic control device)
Level 6 – Deadly Force (last resort, e.g., use of firearm)
In determining the necessity for force and the appropriate level of force, officers shall evaluate each situation in light of the known circumstances, including, but not limited to, the seriousness of the crime, the level of threat or resistance presented by the subject, and the level of threat to public safety. The use of force must be objectively reasonable.
#4 Requires Exhausting All Alternatives Before Shooting
Our current policy specifically states that the use of deadly force, such as the use of firearms, should only be used as a last resort and when lower levels of force have been ineffective or would be inappropriate given the threat level confronting the officer. An officer may use deadly force when the officer reasonably believes such action is immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person from imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.
#5 Require Warning Before Shooting
Our current Use of Deadly Force policy specifically states that whenever feasible, an officer should identify himself and state his intention to shoot before using a firearm. Even our Less Lethal Weapons policy states that whenever practical and feasible, officers should issue a verbal warning and their intent to use OC spray or an electronic control device (ECD) prior to discharge.
#6 Ban Shooting At Moving Vehicles
Our current policy prohibits the use of warning shots, firing a weapon to disable a moving vehicle, and discharging a firearm at or from a moving vehicle except as the ultimate measure of self-defense or the defense of another.
#7 Require Comprehensive Reporting
Our current Use of Force Report policy requires officers to complete a use of force report anytime an officer uses any type of force from Level 3 or above in the Use of Force Continuum with the exception of handcuffing, or is alleged to have used force upon another person, no matter how slight. The report is to be completed for both lethal and less lethal force. The use of force report must also be completed anytime an officer points a deadly weapon at anyone while on duty. All use of force reports are reviewed by the officer’s supervisor, the Deputy Chief of Police, and the Chief of Police to ensure policy and training standards were strictly adhered to.
#8 Duty to Intervene
Our current Code of Conduct mandates officers to protect life and property, preserve the peace, prevent crime, obey all Federal and Commonwealth laws, to respect the civil and constitutional rights of citizens, and to provide medical attention whenever necessary. Officers are obligated to take immediate action when any of those basic principles are violated or at risk, in an effort to correct the situation at hand and to prevent it from escalating and creating further damage or harm. They are also required to report misconduct to a superior officer. Failure to do so, or failure by a superior officer to take appropriate action would constitute neglect of duty and subject that officer to disciplinary action up to and including termination if warranted. Additionally, an officer cannot display cowardice in the line of duty or in any situation where the public may be subject to physical danger.
Nonetheless, as protests and demonstrations continue, these issues and concerns remain in the spotlight, particularly for communities of color. I chose the #8cantwait campaign because it captures the vast majority of questions that we’ve received during the past two weeks. In addition to our personnel and operational policies that comply with the strictest accreditation standards, we utilize a rigorous hiring process that includes physical, written and oral examinations, an extensive background investigation process that exceeds state certification requirements, and includes, but is not limited to, medical, polygraph and psychological testing, drug screening, criminal history, driving record, credit history, educational & employment history, and a check of the applicant’s social media usage. Successful applicants who are hired undergo a lengthy field training program and are subjected to a one year probationary period from the date of hire. Our policies prohibit bias based policing and we are committed to ongoing training and education, including cultural diversity and ethnic sensitivity. We employ strict accountability at all levels within the department and place a strong emphasis on our investment in the community. All of our patrol vehicles are equipped with in-car camera systems and we are in the process of evaluating the addition of body worn cameras in the near future.
I’m proud of the men and women of our department and assure you that we will continue to work with the community to earn the trust and respect of our residents and businesses. I will not allow the senseless, criminal acts in recent times that occurred outside our borders, and beyond our control, to disgrace our department and the vast majority of law enforcement professionals that are dedicated to the communities that they protect and serve without consideration of class, color, creed or condition. At the same time we cannot ignore systemic problems where they exist, and we have a duty and an obligation to make whatever changes are necessary to prevent another senseless attack on humanity and our civil liberties.
Chief Joseph G. Elias
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.