Valor Award Heroes – Officers Josh Vadell and Thomas McCabe

Heroes Among Us
By Lt. Patrick J. Ciser, C.P.D. (Ret.)

“Hero,” is an overused word in our society to be sure. Some people, and rightfully so, are sometimes heroes to just one person. A father or mother can absolutely be a hero to a child, for instance. Things can get a little fuzzy; however, when movie stars and athletes are referred to as “heroes” it kind of diminishes the word. Colin Kaepernick would be a prime example.

I would submit to you that every man and woman who pins on a badge and straps on a gun are absolute heroes. Taking an oath to risk your life in the service of your community is exemplary, to say the least. Although we are many times villianized in the press, we all know different. We answer the call to protect the citizens of our communities by running toward danger while others run away; and rightfully so. It’s a small percentage of our society that would endure the hardships of our chosen profession on a daily basis for 25 years or more. Some of us, through fate, or proactive policing, as is in this case, garner what I call, “The Finest of the Finest” title.

It was 0230 hours on September 3rd, 2016, when two Atlantic City police officers were extremely observant and proactive in their patrol duties as they came upon an armed robbery in progress. According to eyewitness accounts, three suspects were attempting to rob two individuals just outside Caesars Palace parking garage, and Officers Josh Vadell and Thomas McCabe received the call. As the two officers pulled up and exited their vehicle, an immediate shot rang out and Officer Vadell was struck in the head. Officer McCabe immediately returned fire as the suspects took off running in different directions as a result of Officer McCabe’s actions. One suspect, Jerome Damon of Camden, was found dead a block and a half away by backup officers. After returning fire, 

Officer McCabe immediately went to the aid of his partner, while transmitting, “Shots fired, Officer down!” Surprisingly, after being shot in the head, Officer Vadell was talking and didn’t even realize that he had been shot. He even questioned his partner, saying, “What are you talking about?” Officer McCabe, with approximately three years law enforcement experience at the time, rushed his partner into the back seat of the patrol car as backup officers arrived. He knew in order to save his partner, time was of the essence.

Officer Josh Vadell, who’s married to Laura, and has two children, Adrianna and Vienna, said to the hospital staff, “Please don’t let me die; we’re expecting a baby (Lucy) in a few weeks.” After four hours in surgery, the doctors reportedly gave Josh a 50% chance of survival. Being the fighter that he is, Josh left Atlantic Care Medical Center in two weeks and continued his care at a rehabilitation center until November 8th.

For their actions, Josh Vadell and Thomas McCabe were recognized and honored by NJ Blue Now as this year’s Valor Award recipients, along with three other brave men from across the country, on December 4th, 2017. Officer Thomas McCabe, with the support of his fiancée, Adriana Barbarano, returned to work two weeks after the shooting, to again serve, “The city that barely sleeps.”