Newest county detective learned trade in New Garden

After becoming expert in So. Chester County gang activity, Nangle tapped to join county detectives

By Kathleen Brady Shea, Special to

Chester County Detective Joseph Nangle

WEST CHESTER — He started tinkering with TV innards before exploring the inner workings of Hispanic gangs, an expertise that served him well after authorities deemed a December double homicide in Avondale gang-related.

Joseph F. Nangle III, formerly a detective sergeant with the New Garden Township police, admittedly pursued an unconventional career path; however, it led him to a coveted spot with the Chester County Detectives.

Nangle, 36, who started his new job Monday, was selected from a competitive pool that began with about 50 inquiries from applicants in the region as well as outside the state, said Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan.

Chief County Detective James Vito said the abundance of talent made the selection process difficult. The detectives, who have jurisdiction across the county, serve as the investigative arm of the District Attorney’s Office. As such, they may take the lead in a criminal investigation or assist other departments.

“The citizens of Chester County should be proud that so many high-quality law enforcement officers are eager to join the Chester County Detectives and keep Chester County safe,” said Hogan.

Vito said Nangle’s knowlege of the county – he’s a lifelong resident – familiarity with the gang culture and proficiency with electronics made him a particularly attractive candidate.  Nangle’s technical background will be an asset since the tools used to commit as well as to fight crime are becoming more sophisticated, Vito added.

One of the youngest hires by the county detectives in the past several decades, Nangle was already the lead investigator in the high-profile fatal stabbing that occurred Dec. 3. Investigators said Cuahuctemoc Bedolla, 27, and Jose Rodriguez, 29, both of West Grove, died at the hands of a group of rival gang members at an outdoor bonfire party. A dozen defendants have been charged and are awaiting trial in Chester County Court. New Garden Township named Nangle its 2011 Officer of the Year for his work on that case.

The fatal ambush marked the bloodiest outbreak of gang violence in the area since 2004, when a man was fatally stabbed by a rival gang member outside a Kennett Square restaurant. At the time, Nangle was a member of a regional task force monitoring gang activity and assisted investigators.

New Garden Police Chief Gerald Simpson said Nangle will be missed and hard to replace, but his former colleagues fully support his new appointment.

“New Garden Township’s loss is Chester County’s gain,” Simpson said. “For 11 years, Sgt. Joseph Nangle has been a valuable and dedicated employee. The Chester County Detectives have hired an experienced and hard-working investigator.”

Nangle, a graduate of Salesianum School in Delaware, is married to Charrity Nangle, and the couple has three children ranging in age from 2 to 7. His wife, “an extraordinary singer” who attended the High School for Creative and Performing Arts in Philadelphia, sometimes performs in the area, he said.

“I’m honored and privileged to have been chosen for this position,” said Nangle, adding that he admired and respected many of the other applicants.

Inspired by his father, Joseph F. Nangle Jr., a longtime criminal investigator for the state police, Nangle said he always dreamed of being in law enforcement. He said the competition for jobs prompted him to pursue his interest in electronics as a backup. But, after earning his  police certification at Delaware County Community College in 2001, he was thrilled when he got a job in New Garden Township.

He said his interest in gangs developed after his first serious case on the job: a carjacking that involved members of the Surenos, one of the Hispanic gangs in the area. “At the time, there was no intelligence available on them, and I realized that there was a need to start keeping track.”

The detective’s father said he never exerted influence on his son’s career choice but was pleasantly surprised he decided to change channels after years of TV repairs. In retrospect, the decision proved well-founded, said Nangle’s father, who now works as a private investigator. “I think he has the right personality for police work.”

Nangle Jr. said he credited his son’s superior work ethic to the time he spent employed by Tom’s TV.

Nangle Jr. said his son had a great experience at New Garden and he expects his success to continue in his new job. “My wife and I are delighted: That is really something to be proud of.”

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