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JOHN H. KRETZLER AND BRIAN S. KORDING v. OHIO TOWNSHIP (07/16/74)

decided: July 16, 1974.

JOHN H. KRETZLER AND BRIAN S. KORDING, APPELLANTS,
v.
OHIO TOWNSHIP, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of In Re: Appeal of John H. Kretzler and Brian S. Kording from the Board of Civil Service of Ohio Township, No. SA 84-1973.

COUNSEL

Ronald P. Koerner, with him Gatz, Cohen, Segal & Koerner, for appellants.

Michael J. Boyle, with him Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, for appellee.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers and Blatt. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.

Author: Bowman

[ 14 Pa. Commw. Page 238]

Appellants are two regular full-time members of the Ohio Township Police Force who were properly appointed to the position of Chief of Police and Lieutenant by the Board of Township Supervisors (Board). Thereafter, the Board, on December 21, 1972, demoted each of the appellants to the rank of patrolman. Appellants requested a hearing on the Board's charges but that request was denied, and an appeal was taken from the Board's decision to the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. Appellee filed a motion to quash, and by order of the lower court, appellants' appeal was quashed. An appeal was timely filed in this Court.

This appeal presents the novel issue of whether a police officer is entitled to a hearing when the appointing authority directs that he be reduced in rank. Our resolution of this issue turns upon an analysis of the Local Agency Law, Act of December 2, 1968, P.L. 1133, 53 P.S. § 11302, and the Act of June 15, 1951, P.L. 586, § 1 et seq., as amended, 53 P.S. § 811 et seq. (commonly known as the Police Tenure Act).

[ 14 Pa. Commw. Page 239]

The Police Tenure Act in Section 2, 53 P.S. § 812, provides: "No person employed as a regular full time police officer . . . shall be suspended, removed or reduced Page 239} in rank except for the following reasons: . . . ." (Emphasis added.) The specific wording of this section makes it applicable to a case involving a reduction in rank, and appellants herein do not contend that the Board failed to provide them a statement of the charges as required by this section.

By contrast, Section 4 of the Police Tenure Act, 53 P.S. § 814, omits any reference to reduction in rank when providing for hearings. Section 4 states: "If the person sought to be suspended or removed shall demand a public hearing, the demand shall be made to the appointing authority. . . . The appointing authority shall grant him a public hearing. . . ."

Prior to 1965, Section 2 did not contain the phrase "reduced in rank" and was limited to suspensions and removals. See Rossiter v. Whitpain Township, 404 Pa. 201, 170 A.2d 586 (1961). In 1965 the Legislature amended Section 2*fn1 and expanded the notice provisions of that section to provide that a statement of charges is also to be given to an officer when he is reduced in rank. Section 4 was not at that time nor has it ever been amended to include similar language mandating a hearing when an officer is reduced in rank.

Within the context of the Police Tenure Act as thus amended we may only conclude as a matter of legislative intent that a police officer when reduced in rank, while entitled to a written statement of the charges made against him, is not entitled to a public hearing thereon. This anomalous result of a right to a statement of charges without a corresponding remedy to contest them is buttressed by Section 5 of the statute, 53 P.S. § 815, which affords judicial review only with respect to suspensions and ...


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