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EDWARD M. LEWIS v. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION (05/20/88)

decided: May 20, 1988.

EDWARD M. LEWIS, APPELLANT,
v.
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, Entered April 30, 1986 at No. 3611 C.D. 1984, Reversing the Order of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County at No. 2536, Entered January Term 1983

COUNSEL

Bruce W. Kauffman, Paul S. Diamond, Richard J. Bortnick, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Ralph J. Teti, Divisional Deputy City Sol., for appellee.

Nix, C.j., and Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Zappala, Papadakos and Stout, JJ. Nix, C.j., concurred in the result.

Author: Larsen

[ 518 Pa. Page 171]

OPINION OF THE COURT

The issue presented in this case is whether findings of the Civil Service Commission (the Commission) were supported

[ 518 Pa. Page 172]

    by substantial evidence in its decision to uphold appellant's discharge from the Philadelphia Police Department.

The record of the proceedings before the Commission discloses the following. In February of 1982, the Philadelphia Police Department (the Department) began an investigation to identify which police officers were responsible for excessive interference with police car radio broadcasts in its North Central Division. This interference primarily occurred in the form of "clicking" when officers pressed the transmission switch on their microphones. The Department considered the interference to be potentially life threatening because it prevents legitimate transmissions from being broadcast.*fn1 The purpose of the investigation was to curtail this improper use of police radio by surreptitiously catching an offender and making a disciplinary example of him.

The Department's plan was to install a silent secondary broadcast system or "channel guard radio" to replace the existing radio in randomly selected police vehicles. The channel guard radio would enable the Department to monitor and record radio transmissions from a particular police vehicle because it gives off a subaudible tone making the receipt of that radio's output distinctive from other transmissions. In this case, the output went into a relay system where it was electronically recorded.

On February 9 and 10, 1982, appellant Edward M. Lewis was on duty in radio patrol car 227 during the 11:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. shift. Unbeknownst to Officer Lewis, the radio normally in car 227 was replaced with the channel guard radio. During this time, the department taped clicking noises and an inaudible shout on February 9, and clicking ...


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