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VEGA APPEAL. (11/14/55)

November 14, 1955

VEGA APPEAL.


Appeal, No. 58, March T., 1955, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, May T., 1954, No. 314, in re appeal of Henry Vega, Chief of Police, from dismissal by Council of Borough of Burgettstown, Washington County, Pennsylvania. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

Edward V. Sciamanna, with him Thomas L. Anderson, for appellant.

Frederic G. Weir, with him Richard DiSalle, Adolph L. Zeman, Robert L. Zeman, William S. Livengood, Jr., and Zeman & Zeman, for appellee.

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

Author: Stern

[ 383 Pa. Page 45]

OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HORACE STERN

The question concerns the propriety of the dismissal from office of Henry Vega, a Chief of Police of the Borough of Burgettstown, Washington County, by the Council of the Borough under the provisions of the Act of June 15, 1951, P.L. 586, regulating police tenure in boroughs and other designated municipalities having a police force of less than three members.

Vega became a policeman in 1947, and Chief in 1950 of a police force in the Borough consisting of himself

[ 383 Pa. Page 46]

    and one other officer. In February, 1954, the Burgess and Police Committee of the Council filed a report recommending his discharge for neglect of official duty, violation of certain laws of the Commonwealth, and neglect, disobedience of orders, inefficiency, and conduct unbecoming an officer. A hearing was had by the Council, at the conclusion of which, on February 15, 1954, it entered an order removing him from office. On April 15, 1954, he filed an appeal in the Court of Common Pleas. At the hearing there held neither party presented additional testimony, and the trial judge, on the basis of the record before the Council, sustained Vega's appeal on the major charges against him, but, in lieu of removal, suspended him for 60 days without pay for infractions of certain rules and regulations. The exceptions of the Borough were overruled by the court en banc and it now appeals to this court.

The Act of 1951 provides that the dismissed police officer should have the right to appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of the County in which he was employed, but, unlike the Act of June 5, 1941, P.L. 84, which regulates police tenure in boroughs nd other designated municipalities maintaining a police force of not less than three members, there are no explanatory provisions therein prescribing the time in which such an appeal must be taken, the scope of the appeal, the procedure therein, or the extent of the power of the court to modify the order of the Borough Council instead of merely affirming or reversing it. The 1941 Act does make provision in all such respects; it states that the appeal shall be taken within 60 days from the entry of the order appealed from, that the court shall hear the appeal on the original record and such additional proof or testimony as the appellant may desire to offer, that the case shall be determined "as the court deems proper," and that the "employee shall be suspended,

[ 383 Pa. Page 47]

    discharged, demoted or reinstated in accordance with the ...


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