Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Allegheny County, a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Richard M. Connell, No. SA 506 of 1977.
Thomas H. M. Hough, Assistant County Solicitor, with him Alexander J. Jaffurs, County Solicitor, for appellant.
Raymond Radakovich, for appellee.
Judges Mencer, Rogers and DiSalle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.
[ 42 Pa. Commw. Page 321]
Allegheny County (County) appeals a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County affirming the reinstatement of Richard M. Connell by the County Civil Service Commission for Policemen and Firemen (Commission) to his former position as a patrolman in the County Police Department.*fn1
[ 42 Pa. Commw. Page 322]
The parties stipulated that Connell was first elected and served as a Democratic committeeman in April 1972 and became a policeman in September 1972. He was twice reelected committeeman in 1974 and 1976 and served as a committeeman at all times pertinent hereto. In 1975, Rule 141(a) of the County Police Department Rules and Regulations was adopted, which provides in pertinent part as follows:
No member or employee of the Bureau of Police shall engage in the following partisan political activities:
(a) Being an officer in a political party or holding political office during his employment.
The Commission heard testimony that in June 1976 and again in October 1976, Superintendent of Police Robert G. Kroner informed Connell in a letter that he held his political post in contravention of Rule 141(a) and directed him to resign as a committeeman or face a departmental disciplinary hearing. Urged by the County Director of Public Protection, James P. Curran, his immediate supervisor, to enforce the rule against Connell, Superintendent Kroner appointed a "Board of Inquiry" consisting of himself and two other members of the police department. On February 2, 1977, this panel concluded that Connell had not violated Rule 141(a), inasmuch as the rule was not in effect when he first joined the police department.
Nonetheless, on May 4, 1977, Director Curran informed Superintendent Kroner that Connell was suspended until he resigned his political post and directed Superintendent Kroner to inform Connell of his suspension.
Connell testified at the Commission hearing that, prior to joining the County police force in 1972, he made several ...