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HENRY H. BROWN v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/31/84)

decided: October 31, 1984.

HENRY H. BROWN, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania State Police in the case of In the Matter of: Court Martial -- Sergeant Henry H. Brown, Troop "J", Lancaster, dated November 3, 1983.

COUNSEL

Harold I. Goodman, for petitioner.

Joel M. Ressler, Deputy Attorney General, with him, Allen C. Warshaw, Deputy Attorney General, Chief, Litigation Section, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Williams, Jr., Craig and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 644]

Henry H. Brown appeals an order of the Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Daniel F. Dunn dismissing Brown from his position as sergeant. The commissioner's order was based on the recommendation of the Pennsylvania State Police Court Martial Board which conducted a hearing on charges that Brown violated the state police field regulations concerning unbecoming conduct,*fn1 conformance to laws,*fn2 and competence.*fn3

The first two charges arose out of an incident which occurred on February 23, 1983. Although there is conflicting testimony regarding the events

[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 645]

    of that evening, substantial evidence supports the board's findings that during an altercation between Brown and a female acquaintance on a street in the city of Lancaster, Brown engaged in threatening and physically abusive action.*fn4 His actions and loud words prompted people nearby to summon the Lancaster police. Brown argued with the responding officers, who took him into custody for disorderly conduct, but soon released him without filing formal charges. The board concluded (1) that Brown had conducted himself in a manner unbecoming a police officer, and, (2) having engaged in disorderly conduct under section 5503 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, was therefore in violation of the conformance-to-laws field regulation.

In passing on the third charge facing Brown, the board reviewed his past disciplinary action reports relevant to the board's consideration of the charge of incompetency; the applicable field regulation provides that a written record of disciplinary actions detailing repeated infractions is prima facie evidence of incompetence.

Despite documentation of twenty instances of disciplinary action during Brown's fifteen years with the state police, the board voted 2 to 1 against a finding

[ 85 Pa. Commw. Page 646]

    of incompetence. The board imposed a thirty-day suspension for the conformance-to-laws violation, but recommended that the commissioner dismiss Brown for ...


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