York County police officer charged with 50 counts of child pornography

WEST MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- A York County police officer faces 50 felony counts of child pornography.

The Pennsylvania attorney general's office child predator unit investigated the West Manchester Township officer after receiving several cyber tips from Pintrest about pornographic images posted online.

A few people in the community who shared their thoughts about the officer's arrest.

Many are upset and called allegations disturbing and sickening.

Officer Chad Howell wasn't wearing his west Manchester Township police uniform Thursday, but an orange York County Prison jumpsuit after being charged with with 50 felony counts of child pornography.

West Manchester Township resident Kathryn Decoste said "I'm saddened, and I'm sickened. The trust we put in our police officers to help us, to even be inspirational to our children, hearing this kind of news is just as seriously disturbing."

Agents went to meet Howell at the West Manchester Township police station as the officer was getting off duty, 5:30 Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, other agents were conducting a search of Howell's Carroll Township home in York County.

The Pennsylvania attorney general's office oversaw the investigation.

Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro said "Every case involving child pornography or the sexual exploitation of children is abhorrent."

"The fact that the defendant is in a position of public trust is especially concerning. Our office will prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law," Shapiro added.

Investigators received 14 cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about several nude or nearly nude photos posted online of girls from about the age of 15 to as young as eight-years-old.

Investigators also found those postings in connection with Pintrest accounts allegedly used by Howell.

"We tell our children, if you're in trouble, look for a police officer, my God what happens if they go to a police officer who then abuses them? It's disgusting," Decoste said.

Pinterest reported several user names connected to the pornographic postings including chrissmith 4618. The number 4618 is Howell's current badge number.

Another user ID stated in the court documents is howellycpd. Howell previously worked with the York City Police Department.

Police said Howell also confirmed those user names associated with his gmail email accounts.

Court documents further state investigators asked Howell if they would find images of child porn on his cell phone, to which Howell reportedly replied "I would like to say no, but I really don't know."

The agent stated 50 images were found and that it was only a sampling of images found on Howell's phone.

"It's horrible, but I choose to believe that this is an individual case. I mean we hear stories about people in positions of power, whether it be a priest, a police officer or a teacher, it's going to happen. It's sad and it's sickening, but I do not think it's an overall reflection of our police force here," Decoste said.

It's sad and it's sickening, but i do not think it's an overall reflection of our police force here," Decoste said.

Pastor Sharon Lincoln said "I don't think that there's anything they can do, other than continue to screen the candidates. Those who become police are accountable to the same laws as everyone else."

FOX 43 News contacted the West Manchester Township Police Chief for his reaction to the story and to find out Howell's current status with the department, but his assistant said they are not commenting on this case, and that everything is being handled by the attorney general's office.