Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County in case of In Re: Matter of Appeal of Peter Albano, Chief of Police of the Borough of McAdoo, No. 523 September Term, 1972.
Fred C. Pace, with him Noonan, Pace & Noonan, for appellant.
James F. Geddes, Jr., with him Benjamin R. Jones, III, and Joseph Holochuk, for appellee.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.
[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 335]
This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of Common Pleas, Schuylkill County, sustaining the dismissal of the Chief of Police of the Borough of McAdoo, Peter Albano (Appellant).
A newly organized Borough Council in January, 1972, through the Chairman of its Police, Fire and Light Committee, issued directives to the Appellant outlining duties the Committee wanted the Chief of Police and the police force to undertake. On February 25, 1972, additional correspondence from the Chairman of the Committee expressed further recommendations to the Appellant on police procedure. On March 6, 1972, these recommendations were enacted into an official borough ordinance. On March 7, 1972, Appellant informed Borough Council it was his understanding that Council had the power only to determine weekly hours and that all other matters concerning police procedures were under supervision of the Mayor. Appellant also suggested that "the Mayor, Police Committee, and myself (Appellant) sit down and iron out the difficulties."
On April 12, 1972, Appellant was involved in an altercation with borough employees who were in the process of placing "No Parking" signs in front of his barber shop. The Appellant, feeling such activity was harassment on the part of the borough council, forcibly prevented the workers from erecting the signs, and in admonishing the men, uttered a series of what are commonly known as "four letter" words.
On April 24, 1972, Appellant was dismissed by the Borough Council. The reasons cited by Council for this action were (1) Appellant's refusal to follow Council's directives and Ordinances relating to police duties, and (2) conduct unbecoming an officer relative to the events of April 12, 1972. Formal hearings were held by the Civil Service Commission, Borough of McAdoo, and on June 12, 1972, the Commission sustained the dismissal
[ 13 Pa. Commw. Page 336]
of the Appellant. This decision was appealed to the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County, which in an Opinion and Order dated August 13, 1973, affirmed the determination of the Commission. Appellant appeals this decision to this Court.
Our scope of review in an appeal of this nature is to look beyond the jurisdiction of the court below and the regularity of the proceedings, to determine, by examination of the testimony, whether the findings are supported by evidence or whether the court was guilty of an abuse of discretion in such connection or an error of law. Bell Appeal, 396 Pa. 592, 152 A.2d 731 (1959); Kramer v. City of Bethlehem, 5 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 139, 289 A.2d 767 (1972).
Before analyzing the merits of this particular appeal, we feel constrained to remark, as did the court below, that the parties here involved have used the judicial system to further a running conflict between those in authority in the Borough of McAdoo. Personality conflicts and lack of any communication between the parties have resulted in timely and costly litigation. ...