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CITY MCKEESPORT v. CHRIS VAMIVAKES (02/28/85)

decided: February 28, 1985.

THE CITY OF MCKEESPORT, APPELLANT
v.
CHRIS VAMIVAKES, LEO SOLOMON AND WILLIAM RENDULIC, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of In Re: Appeal of Chris Vamivakes, Leo Solomon and William Rendulic, No. SA 122 of 1983.

COUNSEL

John F. Cambest, Conway, Meyer & Cambest, for appellant.

Ronald P. Koerner, Gatz, Cohen, Segal & Koerner, for appellees.

Judges Rogers, MacPhail and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. Judge Williams, Jr., did not participate in the decision in this case.

Author: Macphail

[ 88 Pa. Commw. Page 24]

The City of McKeesport (City) appeals to this Court from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County granting the appeals of Chris Vamivakes, Leo Solomon and William Rendulic (Appellees) from their respective demotions within the City's Police Department. We reverse.

The City enacted a Personnel Policy (Policy) by Ordinance No. 79-4 (Ordinance) dated February 21, 1979, effective February 24, 1979, which provides for merit selection of police officers for any promotion above the rank of patrolman. With respect to suspensions, demotions and reductions in rank, the Policy entitles police officers to written notification of specific charges and a hearing before the City's Civil Service Commission (Commission).*fn1

[ 88 Pa. Commw. Page 25]

The mayor promoted Appellees without regard to the Policy.*fn2 After this Court's decision in Diehl v. City of McKeesport, 60 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 561, 432 A.2d 288 (1981) (Petition for Allowance of Appeal denied November 19, 1981), where we had the same ordinance before us, the mayor notified Appellees that they were being reduced in rank to that of patrolman. No specific charges were provided. After a hearing on October 13, 1982, the Commission decided that because Appellees were not promoted in accordance with the Policy, Appellees did not come under the protections afforded by the Policy.

The Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County reversed, holding that Appellees were entitled to the same protection from arbitrary reduction in rank afforded by the Policy to those officers promoted pursuant to merit testing. The trial court reinstated Appellees to their former positions, reasoning that the mayor was estopped from taking advantage of his own wrongdoing and arguing that Appellees were not legally promoted. The City now appeals to this Court.

The issue we must decide is whether police officers promoted after the Policy was adopted in contravention of procedures enunciated in the Policy are nevertheless entitled to its protection against arbitrary demotion.

The City argues that after the enactment of the Ordinance adopting the ...


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