Capt James Cadden
Capt James Cadden
The Following is sent to us courtesy of Dick Ellwood
It comes to us as an excerpt from one of his books -*1
James J. Cadden, was a Baltimore City Police Department homicide commander when he retired. He was also a highly decorated World War II veteran. He was born and raised in the 10th Ward. He attended St. John the Evangelist school on Valley and Eager Street and then attended city public schools. He left school in the ninth grade to go in the Army and later earned his GED in the service.
He enlisted in the Army in 1943 and after being trained as a paratrooper, he served with the 506th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division.
Jim Cadden landed at Normandy, France on June 6, 1944 and later fought in the ill-fated Operation Market Garden, the air invasion of Arnhem in the Netherlands where Allied forces encountered stiff German resistance.
In mid-December 1944 Cadden fought at Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge. He was decorated with the Silver Star for valor after he and another soldier breached enemy lines in an attempt to rescue a seriously wounded soldier crying for help.
They raced back carrying the man, who screamed in pain as enemy fire fell around them.
Jim Cadden was discharged from the Army in 1946 with the rank of technical sergeant. He received two Purple Hearts and three Bronze Stars. He joined the Baltimore City Police Department in 1949. He worked in patrol for a short period of time. As his career progressed, he became the only Baltimore City police officer to have worked in the homicide unit as a detective, sergeant, lieutenant and captain. He was the commanding officer of the homicide unit until he retired in 1977. In 1978, he took a job with the Maryland State Lottery.
Now, after reading about what a real American hero that Jim Cadden was, let me tell you a little more about him. I’m very familiar with Jim Cadden on a personal and professional basis. As a kid growing up in the 10th Ward, I remember seeing him in the neighborhood after he came back from the war. He was a very imposing figure, not a rowdy guy by any means. He was a real gentleman and had the respect of everyone in the 10th Ward. He never talked much about the war and most people in the 10th Ward were not aware about all that he did in the service.
On a personal note, I worked for Captain Cadden when I was assigned to the Central District. I can tell you that he was the most honest man I ever knew in the police department. I can remember when I was working in the vice unit in the Central District and Cadden was given two tickets to the 1971 world series. The tickets were mailed to his office. The tickets came from a very prominent realtor who had an office in the district. The tickets were box seats for the world series between the Baltimore Orioles and the Pittsburgh Pirates. You can imagine that anyone would kill for those tickets.
Captain Cadden called me and my sergeant into his office. He handed us the tickets and told us to take them back to the realtor. He told us to tell the guy that he appreciated the thought, but he cannot accept the tickets. We took the tickets back to the guy and he was astonished that the captain would not accept them. We were hoping that he would say…you guys keep the tickets, but that didn’t happen.
On another occasion the captain was approached by an owner of a strip joint on the block. The owner came into the station and asked for the captain. When he went in the captain’s office, he apparently offered the captain a bribe of some kind. The block was a location with numerous strip clubs and a lot of gambling. The captain literally threw the guy out of his office and made sure he exited the building.
Captain Cadden was a very friendly guy, but when it came to solving homicides, he was all business. From being a detective, sergeant, lieutenant and a captain in the homicide unit, you would not dare to try and pull the wool over his eyes. He made everyone in the unit better, knowing that he was the most qualified man to be in charge of the unit.
On a personal note, I got in a little trouble while working in the unit. I’m not going to go into detail about what happened, it is all laid out in my first book…Cop Stories-The Few, The Proud, The Ugly. You can get the book and read about what happened. I will say that it was serious and could have cost me my job.
Captain Cadden called me into his office and shut the door. I sat in a chair in front of his desk. I can tell you that I was very nervous…maybe even scared of what was going to happen. He took off his coat and commenced to walk around my chair. If I didn’t know better, I actually thought the guy was going to punch me. He started off by telling me that my dad would not be proud of me at this time. After about twenty minutes of berating me and telling me I could have been fired, he told me to get out of his office and get back to work. When I left his office, I had to find a secluded place and pull myself together. I was upset that I had put myself in this position. At the same time, I was extremely happy that Captain Cadden saw fit to give me a reprieve. I went back to work and nothing else was ever said about the incident.
I can tell you that other than my dad, Jim Cadden had the most influence on me as a police officer. I know that he touched many others with his keen sense of how to proceed with a criminal investigation. He did it the right way…there were no shortcuts that could affect the outcome of the prosecution.
Over the years of Captain Cadden’s service to the citizens of Baltimore City, he was recognized not only by his department, but by many others that he provided assistance on their murder investigations.
Anyone that served under Captain Cadden will tell you he demanded excellence in murder investigations. The years that he supervised the Homicide Unit, the unit had clearance rates that were in the high 80’s to 90’ percent.
Hanging on the wall in the Homicide Unit are some words that Captain Cadden put there;
No greater honor can be bestowed upon a human being than to investigate the death of another human being…
Baltimore's Coldest Case
Click HERE to see more about this case
*1 - Dick Ellwood 443 632-6557 © Dickellwood1@verizon.net Books by Dick Ellwood: Cop Stories-The Few, The Proud, The Ugly (Non-fiction) Charm City’s Blue Justice (Crime Novel) The Dark Side Of Blue (Crime Novel) The Secret Zoo (Children’s Book) Cop Stories II – Policing Baltimore- A Real Conversation (Non-fiction) Available on Amazon, I Universe.com, Booksamillion.com & bookstores
Anyone with information, photographs, memorabilia, or other "Baltimore City Police" items can contact Ret. Det. Kenny Driscoll at