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EUGENE L. COON v. DEPUTY SHERIFF'S EDUCATION AND TRAINING BOARD (11/19/87)

decided: November 19, 1987.

EUGENE L. COON, SHERIFF OF THE COUNTY OF ALLEGHENY, PETITIONER
v.
DEPUTY SHERIFF'S EDUCATION AND TRAINING BOARD, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Deputy Sheriffs' Education and Training Board, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency in the case of In Re: Application of Eugene L. Coon, Sheriff, Allegheny County, for reimbursement and continuation of waiver of training.

COUNSEL

Byron D. Xides, with him, James J. Dodaro and Ira Weiss, Deputy County Solicitors, for petitioner.

Andrew H. Cline, Associate Deputy General Counsel, with him, Henry G. Barr, General Counsel, for respondent.

Stephen F. Ritner, Ritner, Mulvey and Flanagan, P.C., for amicus curiae, Deputy Sheriff's Association of Pennsylvania.

Judges Craig and Barry, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 111 Pa. Commw. Page 177]

The Sheriff of Allegheny County, Eugene L. Coon, has appealed from an adjudication by the Deputy Sheriffs' Education and Training Board, of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, denying the sheriff's request that the board grant his future deputy sheriffs credit toward the board's 160-hour training course by recognizing satisfactory completion of the Allegheny County Police Academy's 480-hour training course as equivalent to at least 120 hours of the board's curriculum for deputy sheriffs given at Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.

The sheriff claims that completion of the more extensive 480-hour police academy course is essential for his deputies, who function in a metropolitan county and must perform more extensive law enforcement functions than deputy sheriffs in a less urban environment.

[ 111 Pa. Commw. Page 178]

With respect to 40 Allegheny County deputies who had completed the 480-hour Allegheny County Police Academy course before February 28, 1986, the board had earlier allowed "partial training waivers," i.e., credit toward 120 hours of the board's course, subject to those deputies completing an additional 40 hours in the board's program at Carlisle.

Both of these law enforcement training course have official status under the statutes of the Commonwealth. The Deputy Sheriffs' Education and Training Act (Deputy Training Act), Act of February 9, 1984, P.L. 3, §§ 1-9, 71 P.S. §§ 2101-2109, mandates and governs deputy sheriff training, and the Act of June 18, 1974, P.L. 359, §§ 1-10, 53 P.S. §§ 740-749, relates to the police academy training.

The board's adjudication, as appealed to this court, also rejected the sheriff's request that Allegheny County be reimbursed for all of the tuition and travel expenses and 50% of the salaries of seven deputies trained at the Allegheny County Police Academy between August 28, 1984 and November 26, 1985.

This court will review the matters raised in the chronological order they arose, considering first the request for reimbursement of expenses.

Reimbursement for Previous Deputy Training at Academy

Section 9 of the Deputy Training Law, 71 P.S. § 2209, provides:

The commission shall provide for reimbursement to each county of 100% of the allowable tuition and the ordinary and necessary living and travel expenses incurred by their deputy sheriffs while attending certified deputy sheriffs' basic training or continuing education schools if the county adheres to the training standards set forth in this act and established by the board

[ 111 Pa. Commw. Page 179]

    with the review and approval of the commission. The regular salary of deputy sheriffs while attending approved schools shall be paid by the employing county. Fifty percent of the regular salaries of deputy sheriffs while attending approved schools shall be reimbursed to the employing county.

As required by section 5 of the Administrative Agency Law, 2 Pa. C.S. § 507, the board's adjudication appears to contain findings on this first issue, although the findings are in general terms and are interwoven with the board's discussion.

First, the board noted the fact that it had neither certified nor approved the county police academy at which the seven deputies received training. The board thus is reading section 9 to permit reimbursement for training at county schools other than the board's school only if the board gives advance approval. Although the statutory reference to "certified deputy sheriffs' . . . schools" possibly may merely identify schools "certified" by reason of having official status within their county, the reference to "approved schools" clearly pertains to approval of a county school obtainable from the board upon its determination that the statutory standard is met -- that is, "if the county adheres to the training standards set forth in this act and established by the board with the review and approval of the commission."

Thus, apart from the reference in the board's adjudication to the fact that it had not "certified" the county academy, its indisputably correct finding that it had never "approved" that academy for deputy sheriff training would appear to be conclusive.

The board also rejected the sheriff's contention that the "partial waivers" as to training completed at the county academy constituted evidence of formal approval of that academy by the board. The board correctly rejected

[ 111 Pa. Commw. Page 180]

    that contention. As the board stated in its adjudication,

[T]he 40 conditional partial waivers were permitted as a matter of grace to avoid penalizing Allegheny County, which, prior to passage of the act, had an established policy providing formal training for its deputy sheriffs at the Pittsburgh academy. It was the opinion of this Board that it would have been unfair to deny the deputies credit for training already provided (which appeared to offer a rough equivalent to some of the training envisioned) because the act was new and the county had already expended public funds in sending these 40 deputies to that training. In addition, no official waiver policy had been adopted at the time those sheriffs began the training at the Pittsburgh academy. However, our action in no way constituted approval or certification of the Pittsburgh academy nor did it bind this Board to provide reimbursement for the deputies trained therein.

Because the record clearly shows that the board did not, either on its own initiative or pursuant to county request, pursue, under section 9 of the act, a review of the academy curriculum in accordance with the section 9 standard, to determine "in advance whether the county adheres to the training standards set forth in this act and established by the board with the review and approval of the commission," the board's decision to refuse retrospective reimbursement was sound and in accordance with the act.

Crediting Future Deputies with Equivalent Academy Training

To articulate the precise issue involved in reviewing the board's refusal to give future Allegheny County deputies

[ 111 Pa. Commw. Page 181]

    any credit for completion of the 480-hour police academy course, we first must determine the governing major premise by examining the ...


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