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APPEAL HARRY S. HODGINS v. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION (03/13/81)

decided: March 13, 1981.

APPEAL OF: HARRY S. HODGINS, APPELLANT
v.
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, BOROUGH OF WILKINSBURG, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the case of Appeal of: Harry S. Hodgins v. Civil Service Commission, Borough of Wilkinsburg, No. S.A. 3 of 1979, August 16, 1979.

COUNSEL

Stanford A. Segal, Gatz, Cohen, Segal and Koerner, P.A., for appellant.

Samuel H. Elkin, Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellee.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., MacPhail and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Williams, Jr.

Author: Williams

[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 475]

Harry S. Hodgins has appealed to this Court from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which affirmed his dismissal as police chief of the Borough of Wilkinsburg (Borough). The court below heard the matter on Hodgins' appeal to that court from a decision of the Borough Civil Service Commission (Commission) upholding his dismissal by the Borough Council.

Appellant Hodgins served as Borough police chief from 1973 until October 1978, when he was dismissed by the Borough Council on charges of neglect of duty and inefficiency. Hodgins appealed that action to the Commission, which, after several hearings, affirmed the dismissal.

[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 476]

The decision of the Commission was based on its finding (1) that Hodgins had neglected his duties as police chief by failing for a period of five years to institute a much-needed training program for the Borough's police force; (2) that he had neglected his duties as police chief by failing to exercise proper supervision of his police officers; and (3) that such neglect justified dismissal. Upon Hodgins' appeal from the Commission's decision to the court below, the matter was determined on the basis of the record made before the Commission and on additional testimony. When the court below affirmed the dismissal, the appeal to this Court followed.

Section 1190(4) of The Borough Code*fn1 authorizes the suspension or removal of a borough police employee for inefficiency or neglect. Appellant Hodgins argues to this Court that the Borough Council did not present sufficient evidence to warrant his dismissal from the police force. He also argues that the lower court misconceived its full scope of review and legal power when it affirmed the dismissal.

The appellant's evidential challenge is somewhat ambiguous: it is not clearly stated whether he is contesting the sufficiency of the evidence to support the charges of neglect, or the sufficiency of the evidence to warrant the penalty of dismissal. However, since the relief the appellant expressly prays for from this Court is a remand for the lesser penalty of suspension in lieu of the dismissal, it may be assumed that his evidential challenge is directed to the degree of penalty. In either event, it is our conclusion that the evidence was sufficient to support the neglect-of-duty charges and the dismissal.

There being no contest of the lower court's jurisdiction or the regularity of the ...


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