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DONALD A. DIEHL v. CITY MCKEESPORT (07/16/81)

decided: July 16, 1981.

DONALD A. DIEHL, ANTHONY J. GALL, THOMAS G. PIPP AND ROBERT MULGADO, APPELLANTS
v.
THE CITY OF MCKEESPORT, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of Donald A. Diehl, Anthony J. Gall, Thomas G. Pipp and Robert Mulgado v. The City of McKeesport, No. S.A. 169 of 1980.

COUNSEL

Walter F. Baczkowski, Liddle and Adams, for appellants.

Steven F. Kessler, City Attorney, for appellee.

Judges Mencer, MacPhail and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 60 Pa. Commw. Page 562]

Donald Diehl, Anthony J. Gall, Thomas G. Pipp, and Robert Mulgado (Appellants) appeal to this Court from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County dated June 12, 1980, that denied Appellants' appeal from their respective demotions within the City of McKeesport's Police Department (Department). We reverse.

The facts are uncontested. On January 1, 1976, the City of McKeesport (City) became a home rule charter municipality. On or about January 8, 1976, two of the Appellants*fn1 were promoted by the present mayor's predecessor to the rank of lieutenant and one*fn2 was promoted to the rank of detective in the Department. The fourth Appellant*fn3 had been promoted to the rank of detective sometime in 1971.

[ 60 Pa. Commw. Page 563]

Acting pursuant to the City's Home Rule Charter (Charter)*fn4 the mayor proposed and the City Council adopted a Personnel Policy (Policy) by Ordinance No. 79-4 (Ordinance) dated February 21, 1979, and effective February 24, 1979. Included in the Policy were provisions for merit selection of police officers for any promotion above the rank of patrolman, written notification outlining specific charges warranting such action to any police officer who was to be reduced in rank, and the opportunity for that officer to demand a hearing on the charges before the City's Civil Service Commission (Commission).*fn5

On January 28, 1980, the present mayor notified the Appellants that they were being reduced in rank to that of patrolman. No specific charges were provided and the Commission denied the Appellants' timely requests for hearings. Appellants filed a Petition for Review with the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County under the Local Agency Law*fn6 alleging that their demotions were a violation of the Policy. The lower court denied the appeal. Appellants appealed to this Court.

[ 60 Pa. Commw. Page 564]

The issue before this Court is whether under the specific provisions of the Ordinance police officers who, prior to the adoption of the Ordinance, were promoted to their present rank without merit examination are entitled to the protection against arbitrary demotion afforded by the Ordinance to those who may ...


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