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JOSEPH KRAFTICIAN v. BOROUGH CARNEGIE (05/24/78)

decided: May 24, 1978.

JOSEPH KRAFTICIAN, APPELLANT
v.
BOROUGH OF CARNEGIE, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, in case of Joseph Kraftician v. Borough of Carnegie, No. 3443 October Term, 1973.

COUNSEL

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

Stephen A. Zappala, with him Nathan T. Cohen, and Zappala & Zappala, for appellee.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr. and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr.

Author: Wilkinson

[ 35 Pa. Commw. Page 471]

Appellant filed a complaint in assumpsit in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas seeking monetary damages for alleged wrongful discharge*fn1 when he was furloughed from his position as a police officer in the Borough of Carnegie (Borough). The lower court dismissed the complaint. We affirm.

The complaint stems from a resolution adopted by Borough Council on January 31, 1972, in which council resolved for economic reasons to furlough eight employees, including four firemen, two street department workers and two policemen. Appellant was subject to this furlough resolution as the oldest police officer on the force who was eligible for retirement.*fn2 He remained on furlough status from February 13, 1972, the effective date of the resolution, until May 5, 1973 when he was recalled. After his recall, appellant worked for a week before submitting his resignation. Prior and subsequent to the furlough the Borough employed three part-time extra policemen, designated by the Borough as "special police." Two of the police were primarily engaged in traffic control and patrol

[ 35 Pa. Commw. Page 472]

    of the business district in the Borough and one was employed as a communications officer operating a base station coordinating police activity in the Borough and eight neighboring municipalities. Although these special police were not equipped by the Borough with standard police equipment such as a gun or handcuffs, they were permitted to carry their own such equipment.

The appellant has framed the issue on appeal to this Court as follows: "Can a municipality terminate the employment of a regular civil service police officer for alleged economy reasons while retaining special police with no civil service status?" We must answer, within the confines of the facts presented in this case and the applicable law, in the affirmative.

The Borough Code permits municipalities to reduce the number of their police or fire force, where required for economic or other reasons. See Section 1190 of the Code, 53 P.S. § 46190. However, Section 1195 of the Code, 53 P.S. § 46195, specifically excludes from this section extra or special police who are hired on a part-time basis. Thus, the Code does not require that, when reducing the complement of the police force, municipalities must include special police in making that determination.*fn3 Moreover, this Court has held with respect to similar provisions in the Police Tenure Act*fn4 that a municipality may reduce its police force for reasons of economy and efficiency even where the municipality hires non-civil service employees to perform some of the same clerical duties previously performed by police officers. Gruver v. Howell, 28 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 296, 368 A.2d 920 (1977).

[ 35 Pa. Commw. Page 473]

The only limitation imposed on the power of a municipality to act in the reduction of its police civil service work force for economy or other reasons is that it must act in good faith. Thus, where there is affirmative evidence of bad faith on the part of municipal officials or where the facts show a patent attempt to avoid or circumvent civil service provisions, our Courts have held a municipality's exercise of this power may be illegal. See Schauer v. Whitehall Borough, 413 Pa. 6, 194 A.2d 318 (1963); Mack v. Hoover, 342 Pa. 291, 20 A.2d 757 (1941). On the subject of bad faith and the degree of proof required for a police officer to prevail when challenging the reduction of a police force, this Court recently held that sufficient evidence of bad faith must be produced to rebut the presumption that public officials acted with regularity. Gruver, supra; see also, Gabriel v. Trinity Area School District, 22 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 620, 350 A.2d 203 (1976). Here, there is little evidence in the record to suggest that Borough Council acted for any reason other than economy as compared with ample evidence the Borough faced severe budgetary problems in the year of the ...


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