Appeal from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Bedford County, in the case of Reggie K. Minnick v. Borough of Hyndman, Nos. 648, 649 and 860, for the year 1986, dated January 26, 1987.
Wilbert H. Beachy, III, for appellant.
Donley C. Logue, Jr., for appellee.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judge McGinley, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Narick.
[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 362]
Reggie Minnick (Appellant) appeals from orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Bedford County. Appellant was employed by Hyndman Borough (Borough) as Chief of Police for approximately 17 1/2 years. In 1986 Appellant was the sole member of the Borough's police department which was operated out of Appellant's
[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 363]
home, the Borough having no police building.*fn1 The circumstances leading to Appellant's cessation of employment as Chief of Police involved a motion passed by Borough Council (Council) on July 7, 1986. This motion as set forth in the minutes of Council's meeting states:
Police -- C. Mueller made motion to do away with police department because Borough cannot afford a police car, and we are virtually without a policeman now. Motion seconded by D. Biller. Motion carried. (Yes -- Robinson, No -- Housel) -- D. Biller stated that he would like to see local citizens have a fund raiser to buy a police car. He said he did not know how we can do without a police department, but felt we would have to try doing without police department for at least the rest of the year. He feels that if a fund raiser is successful, possibly by January 1987 Borough may be able to again have a police department. S. Robinson echoes many of the same feelings as D. Biller. (Layoff is indefinite with no recall date determined.) (Emphasis added.)*fn2
On August 4, 1986, Appellant filed a notice of appeal under the Local Agency Law and an action for declaratory judgment with the court of common pleas. On September 15, 1986, a special meeting of Council was convened and Council clarified in a motion that its actions in July of 1986 were a furlough of Appellant. On October 20, 1986, Appellant filed a third appeal to the court of common pleas pursuant to the Police Tenure
[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 364]
Act (Act), Act of June 15, 1951, P.L. 586, as amended, 53 P.S. §§ 811-816. These cases were consolidated for hearing. The trial court denied Appellant's requests for relief concluding that Council's actions were that of a furlough and not an abolition of the police department, that the furlough was valid, and that Council's actions were not in bad faith. Hence, this appeal.
The issues before us as framed by Appellant are: (1) whether the trial court erred in finding that the actions of Council constituted a furlough and not an improper abolition of the police department; (2) whether the trial court erred in finding that Appellant's furlough was valid when he had not been provided with notice and an opportunity to be heard; (3) whether the trial court erred in finding that ...