High-powered committee to assist with police-chief search

Group’s goal is to select the best candidate before Sept. 10 City Council meeting

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times

Coatesville City Manager Kirby Hudson said getting a permanent police chief in place is a priority.

With an acting police chief in place, Coatesville can focus on the search for a permanent leader,  City Manager Kirby Hudson said today.

Hudson said a search committee is being assembled and will meet Friday morning for the first time to begin the process. Hudson said he wants to be able to submit the leading candidate’s name to City Council at its Sept. 10 meeting.

According to Hudson, the following people with law-enforcement experience have volunteered their services to assist with the search:  Greg Cary, regional external affairs manager for PECO and a former supervisory police officer in Caln Township; Eugene Dooley, police chief in East Whiteland Township and a former homicide division chief for the Philadelphia Police Department; Tyree C. Blocker, a retired major in the Pennsylvania state police, where he directed the Bureau of Drug Law Enforcement; and Keith Sadler, police chief for the city of Lancaster.

Committee members with community and business expertise include Marc Hanlan, a longtime consultant and author who has specializes in change management for the business, public and military sectors; Joseph Hamrick, the vice president of Coatesville City Council; Harry Lewis Jr., board chairman of the Brandywine Health Foundation and a longtime Coatesville educator; Rev. Randall Harris of Tabernacle Baptist Church; and William Lambert, the president of the Coatesville NAACP.

Hudson said a 10th member may be added if contact can be made in time.

The Coatesville Police Department, which typically averages between 30 and 35 officers, had 26 officers on the street last month due to early-retirement buyouts and disability absences. In addition, two officers, Lt. Chris McEvoy and Officer Amy Nicholl, have both been on paid leave pending a yearlong internal investigation into a sexual relationship they had, an affair both said was consensual.

The internal probe widened into a criminal investigation, now being handled by the state Attorney General’s Office, after Nicholl’s cellphone was seized by Coatesville police and then returned to her without its data card.  Nicholl’s attorney, Dolores M. Troiani, has accused department members, including former Chief Julius M. Canale, of deliberately losing the SIM card because it contained incriminating messages from them to Nicholl.

Hudson said he does not believe the state probe or the police-chief search will delay  a decision on the fate of the two officers.

“I am pushing to resolve this one way or another,” he said. “I think this will all come to a head soon.”

Hudson said he was pleased with Council’s decision to bring in someone with Bell’s experience. His  appointment will enable Sgt. James Audette, who did an “excellent job” as the senior officer in charge, to return to his regular duties, where he is greatly needed.


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