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MCCANDLESS TOWNSHIP v. WYLIE (11/17/53)

November 17, 1953

MCCANDLESS TOWNSHIP
v.
WYLIE, APPELLANT



Appeal, No. 227, March T., 1953, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1953, No. 1719, in case of Township of McCandless v. Harry E. Wylie et al. Judgment vacated and record remanded.

COUNSEL

Robert Van der Voort, with him John F. Healy and Van der Voort, Royston, Robb & Leonard, for appellants.

Thomas P. Geer, Solicitor, with him McMonigle, Geer & Moore, for appellee.

Frederic G. Weir, for Western Pennsylvania Chiefs' of Police Association, intervenor.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Chidsey

[ 375 Pa. Page 379]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE CHIDSEY

Harry E. Wylie and John M. Geisler, two of the defendants in a declaratory judgment proceeding instituted by the first class Township of McCandless, appeal from the order of the lower court sitting en banc, the majority of whom sustained the action of

[ 375 Pa. Page 380]

    the Township Commissioners in discharging appellants as police officers. Following the filing of an answer to the Township's petition, the parties entered into a stipulation of agreed facts which constituted the record before the lower court. The Western Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association was granted leave by the lower court to intervene on behalf of Wylie and Geisler.

On November 4, 1952 McCandless Township was a second class township. On that date an election was held in which the voters voted to change the Township from a second to a first class township. On November 25, 1952 the County Commissioners of Allegheny County certified to such election result. At the time of the election, McCandless Township had in its employ the appellants Wylie and Geisler, one Roy Yingling and one William Blakely, all of whom had become permanent full-time police on October 10, 1952. It also had in its employ one Frank F. Raupp who had been a policeman for more than 17 years, but was temporarily released from the police force because of illness. On December 24, 1952 the court of common pleas appointed five commissioners for the new first class township who, after taking oath as such on January 5, 1953, on the same day appointed a Civil Service Commission of three members under the provisions of the 1949 First Class Township Code. Although this Commission prepared rules and regulations, they had not been approved by the McCandless Township Commissioners at the time of the hearing in the lower court. On the same day, January 5, 1953, the new Township Commissioners appointed three temporary policemen, namely, the above named William Blakely and Roy Yingling as patrolmen (thus continuing their former employment) and Maurice J. McCann as chief of police; they also instructed the Secretary of the Township

[ 375 Pa. Page 381]

    to advise appellants Wylie and Geisler by letter that they were relieved of their duties. On April 8, 1953 the Township Commissioners were officially notified that appellants Wylie and Geisler protested termination of their employment and demanded reinstatement.

Under the pleadings, two questions are presented: (1) Do the employment rights conferred by the Police Tenure Act of June 15, 1951, upon police officers of a second class township survive when the township becomes one of the first class? (2) If the first question is answered in the affirmative, then are the police officers obliged to acquire civil service status under the First Class Township Code of 1949 which repealed the Police Civil ...


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