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SENTRY SECURITY (10/20/78)

decided: October 20, 1978.

IN RE SENTRY SECURITY, INC., APPELLANT


No. 1752 October Term, 1977, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, No. 118, Mis., 1976, Crim., entered May 17, 1977, revoking the private detective license of Sentry Security, Inc.

COUNSEL

Elliott D. Goldberg, Phoenixville, for appellant.

James Curtis Joyner, Assistant District Attorney, West Chester, for appellee.

Jacobs, Presiding Judge, and Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, Spaeth and Hester, JJ. Price, J., files a concurring statement. Hoffman, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 259 Pa. Super. Page 387]

Appellant corporation contends that the lower court erred in revoking its license to carry on a private detective business. We agree. Accordingly, we reverse the order of the lower court revoking appellant's license.*fn1

On March 5, 1976, appellant corporation filed an application for a license to carry on a private detective business with the Chester County Court of Common Pleas. Because the Private Detective Act of 1953*fn2 [hereinafter The Act] requires an applicant corporation to demonstrate that at least one of its members possesses the necessary qualifications to be a private detective,*fn3 this application alleged that appellant's president, Joseph P. Shepsko, had been regularly employed as a detective for at least three years. In particular, the application stated that Shepsko had been regularly employed as a member of the Schuylkill Township Police Department in Chester County from March 3, 1969, to June, 1975. During this period, Shepsko regularly engaged in a combination of patrol and detective work. From June to November, 1971, he became the de facto officer in charge of the police department, and from March, 1974, to June, 1975, he served as Acting Sergeant in charge of the force. The application also listed Shepsko's extensive educational credits in the field of criminal investigation.*fn4

[ 259 Pa. Super. Page 388]

On April 22, 1976, Judge SUGERMAN of the Chester County Court of Common Pleas conducted a brief hearing*fn5 and ordered that appellant be issued a certificate of license to conduct a private detective business for a period of two years. The order specified that the license ". . . shall at all time be revocable by the Court for cause shown."

On August 17, 1976, the Chester County District Attorney filed a petition in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas to revoke appellant's license because the District Attorney's investigation had disclosed that Joseph Shepsko did not have the qualifications or experience necessary for a private detective license. On August 26, 1976, appellant filed an answer in which it averred that Shepsko had the necessary qualifications because he had been regularly employed as a detective for at least three years.

On September 8 and 9, 1976, Judge STIVELY conducted a hearing on the Commonwealth's revocation petition. The Commonwealth presented the testimony of only one witness: Lawrence Drake, Supervisor of Schuylkill Township, a second class township, since January, 1974. Drake testified that his duties included supervision of the township police department. At the time Drake assumed his official position, the department comprised a police chief and four full-time patrol officers, including Shepsko. All patrol officers investigated crimes, made reports, patrolled for traffic offenses, and assisted the police forces of surrounding townships. Most of the crimes committed during Drake's tenure as supervisor and investigated by patrol officers fell into the following categories: minor juvenile disturbances, robberies, drug traffic investigations, and traffic accidents. In drug and homicide cases, the police department would call in the Chester County Detective's Office for assistance. Shepsko also acted as administrative officer and was responsible for

[ 259 Pa. Super. Page 389]

    assigning patrol periods, filling out forms, and scheduling patrol officers for court. In January, 1975, Shepsko received a promotion to sergeant; he ...


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