Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County in case of In Re: Appeals of Ronald Mallon, Norman Worstall and Ernest Stroup, No. 71-07621.
Gilbert P. High, Jr., with him High, Swartz, Roberts & Seidel, for appellant.
John T. Acton, with him Jenkins & Acton, for appellees.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.
This is an appeal by the Board of Commissioners of Upper Moreland Township of an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County which affirmed in part and reversed in part a decision of the Civil Service Commission of the Township. The Commission had sustained the Township Board of Commissioners'
decision to dismiss one officer, suspend and demote another, while modifying the suspension period meted out to a third officer.
The charges brought by the Board of Commissioners against all three officers stem from a series of events occurring on the night of November 7, 1970, and the early morning hours of November 8, 1970.*fn1 On November 7th, a testimonial dinner was given at the Upper Moreland Township American Legion Hall, located across from the police station, in honor of John C. Bready, Jr., a Justice of the Peace in the Township. The purpose of the dinner was to raise funds for the defense of Bready who was charged with alleged misuse of funds. Township Commissioner Robert Curtis, a supporter of Bready, was an organizer of the affair. On his way home from the dinner, Curtis was arrested by Officer Ernest Stroup, one of the Appellees herein, and charged with operating his motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants. Commissioner Curtis felt his arrest was unwarranted, improper, and was politically motivated. This contention was echoed by other supporters of Bready who attended the dinner, and who later gathered at the Upper Moreland Township Police Station when they learned of Commissioner Curtis' arrest. As a result of the arrest of Commissioner Curtis and the later confrontation at the police station, Officers Stroup, Worstall and Mallon were charged with, among other things, conduct unbecoming an officer of the police force.
Officer Ronald Mallon was suspended from the force for thirty days by the Township Commissioners. This suspension was reduced to ten days by the Township
Civil Service Commission because, in its opinion, the Township had adequately proven only one of three charges brought against him. The Commission's action in reducing the length of Officer Mallon's suspension was approved by the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. Appellant herein finds no fault with the disposition by the lower court of Mallon's case and seeks no further review by this Court.
Sergeant Norman Worstall was reduced in rank and suspended from the police force for thirty days by the Township Commissioners. Officer Ernest Stroup was dismissed from the force by the same body. The Civil Service Commission sustained the orders of the Township Commissioners.
The Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County reversed the suspension and demotion of Sergeant Norman Worstall and the dismissal of Officer Ernest Stroup, and ordered the officers returned to the force.
We shall examine Appellant's arguments as they relate to the individual officers involved.
Sergeant Worstall was reduced in rank and suspended from the force for thirty days by the Township Commissioners based on the charge that:
(1) He conducted himself in an insulting and unbecoming manner on the night of November 8, 1970.
(2) He acted in complicity with Officer Stroup at the time of the arrest of Commissioner Curtis on November 8, 1970.*fn2
The Civil Service Commission determined that the Township failed to sustain either charge, believing it an
impossible task to resolve the accusations and counter-accusations into conclusive evidence of ...