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WILLIAM C. WILSON v. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION TOWNSHIP WILKINS (06/17/77)

decided: June 17, 1977.

WILLIAM C. WILSON, APPELLANT
v.
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION OF THE TOWNSHIP OF WILKINS, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of In Re: Appeal of William C. Wilson, No. S.A. 794 of 1975.

COUNSEL

Allan E. Dreeland, with him Ronald P. Koerner, and Gatz, Cohen, Segal & Koerner, for appellant.

John M. Means, with him Markel, Levenson, Schafer & Means, for appellee.

Judges Kramer, Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 30 Pa. Commw. Page 573]

This matter is before the Court on an appeal by William C. Wilson from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which affirmed a decision of the Civil Service Commission of Wilkins Township (Commission) suspending Wilson from the township police force for 30 days and temporarily reducing his rank.

[ 30 Pa. Commw. Page 574]

On July 9, 1975, Officer Wilson was off duty. That evening he, his wife, and another couple went out socially for dinner and a few drinks. Before returning to his home at about 2:45 the next morning, Wilson admittedly consumed four to six drinks. Sometime between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., Wilson and his wife had a disagreement and she left their home. Immediately thereafter, in an apparent attempt to unload a handgun, Wilson shot himself in the finger. He was taken to the hospital.

Later that day, Wilson was notified in writing that his conduct was considered disobedience of an order prohibiting the unauthorized carrying of firearms while off duty and conduct unbecoming an officer under Section 644 of The First Class Township Code.*fn1 After an investigation, Wilson was notified that his action was deemed to constitute "inefficiency, neglect, intemperance, disobedience of orders, and conduct unbecoming an officer" within the meaning of Section 644. Two past suspensions for intemperance were taken into account in imposing the disciplinary action of permanent reduction in rank and a 60-day suspension. Wilson appealed the disciplinary action to the Commission.

The Commission held a hearing at which testimony of a nurse was admitted. The nurse, who treated Wilson when he entered the hospital, testified that she had been asked not to report the wound. Other evidence established the aforementioned facts. After considering all the evidence, the Commission reduced Wilson's suspension to 30 days, and it reduced him in rank for

[ 30 Pa. Commw. Page 575]

    only 9 months. Wilson appealed to the common pleas court, which affirmed the Commission's order without taking additional testimony. Wilson then appealed to this Court.

When, as here, the court below took no additional testimony and received no additional evidence on the merits, our scope of review is to determine whether or not the Commission abused its discretion or committed an error of law. Banks v. Board of Commissioners, 7 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 393, 298 A.2d 923 (1973). With this in mind, we note that the charges against Wilson were clearly those permitted ...


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