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ROBERT L. HARTSHORN AND MICHAEL DAVIS v. COUNTY ALLEGHENY ET AL. (03/18/75)

decided: March 18, 1975.

ROBERT L. HARTSHORN AND MICHAEL DAVIS
v.
THE COUNTY OF ALLEGHENY ET AL., APPELLANTS



COUNSEL

Stephen A. Zappala, County Sol., Henry W. Ewalt, Asst. County Sol., Pittsburgh, for appellants.

Ronald P. Koerner, Gatz, Cohen, Segal & Koerner, Pittsburgh, for appellees.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Pomeroy, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Author: O'brien

[ 460 Pa. Page 562]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This appeal arises from an order of the Commonwealth Court, affirming the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, which granted appellees' request for summary judgment. We granted allocatur.

The factual setting in which this appeal arose is as follows: On June 24, 1971, County Detectives Robert L. Hartshorn and Michael Davis, appellees, notified County Commissioners Leonard C. Staisey, Thomas J. Foerster and William R. Hunt, M.D., and District Attorney Robert Duggan, appellants, that appellees wished to conduct collective bargaining under the Act of June 24, 1968, P.L. 237, No. 111, Section 1, 43 P.S. § 217.1 (Act 111), which provides a procedure for policemen to bargain with their employer. Appellants did not respond. On September 10, 1971 appellees notified appellants of their intention to engage in binding arbitration under Act 111. Again, appellants did not respond. Appellees then filed a complaint in mandamus against appellants, in which they sought to compel arbitration. Appellants filed preliminary objections to the complaint alleging, inter alia, that the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County lacked jurisdiction in the matter, since the issue of whether appellees were covered by Act 111 should first be determined by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board and, further, that appellees were not policemen as defined in Act 111. Subsequent to the final disposition of appellants' preliminary objections, the Commonwealth

[ 460 Pa. Page 563]

Court, in Venneri v. County of Allegheny, 5 Pa. Commw. 105, 289 A.2d 523 (1972), held that deputy sheriffs did not have to seek a Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board determination of whether they are covered by Act 111, but rather they could and should, seek a court determination on the issue. In light of this case, the Court of Common Pleas in the instant case dismissed appellants' preliminary objections relating to jurisdiction, and thereafter granted appellees' motion for summary judgment and ordered appellants to arbitrate. The Commonwealth Court affirmed that decision. We granted allocatur and now affirm.

We are of the opinion that appellees need not seek an initial determination from the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board as to whether they are policemen within the meaning of Act 111. In our opinion, the Second Class County Code, Act of July 8, 1953, P.L. 723, Art. XIV, § 1440, 16 P.S. § 4440(b), which provides:

"(b) County detectives shall at all times be subject to the orders of the district attorney, and shall investigate and make report to the district attorney as to the conduct in office of magistrates, constables, deputy constables and other officers connected with the administration of criminal justice, to make investigations, and endeavor to obtain such evidence as may be required by the district attorney in any criminal case, and perform such other duties as the district attorney may direct. Said detectives shall be general police officers and shall have all powers now conferred on constables by existing laws of this Commonwealth, so far as they relate to crime or criminal procedure, and they shall serve subpoenas in cases in which the Commonwealth is a party in a court of record." (Emphasis supplied.)

     makes clear that the legislature intended the county detectives to be classified ...


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