Goldmann, Freund and Schettino. The opinion of the court was delivered by Goldmann, S.j.a.d.
Plaintiff appeals from a final judgment of the Law Division (1) denying his motion for summary judgment and (2) granting defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismissing the complaint with prejudice. Involved here is the right of a municipality to suspend a police officer without pay, pending investigation, the preferring of formal charges and a hearing.
In 1946 the Borough of Vineland adopted the provisions of the Civil Service Act, R.S. 11:19-1 et seq. , as amended. The City of Vineland was organized under the Optional Municipal Charter Law, L. 1950, c. 210 (N.J.S.A. 40:69 A -1 et seq.), on July 1, 1952, as successor, by consolidation, to the Borough of Vineland and the Township of Landis, both in Cumberland County. The Civil Service Act has continued in full force and effect in the successor municipality.
Plaintiff was a policeman of the Borough of Vineland until May 23, 1950, when he was appointed chief of police. He has continued in that position ever since; admittedly, he enjoys civil service protection and is bound by the terms of the Civil Service Act and the rules and procedures of the Civil Service Commission of the State of New Jersey.
In June 1954 certain persons testified concerning plaintiff at public hearings held by the New Jersey Law Enforcement Council, with the result that defendant Maguire, Acting Director of Public Safety of the City of Vineland, suspended plaintiff without pay as of June 18, 1954. On that day plaintiff was served with the following notice:
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
NOTICE OF PRELIMINARY SUSPENSION
AFFECTING A PERMANENT OFFICER OR
EMPLOYEE IN THE CLASSIFIED CIVIL
TO: S. GRILL D'IPPOLITO, Chief of Police
Sixth Street & Chestnut Avenue
1. (a) TAKE NOTICE that on June 15th and 16th, 1954, certain statements were made by witnesses under oath before the Members of the New Jersey Law Enforcement Council conducting public hearings at the Cumberland County Court House, in Bridgeton, New Jersey, inquiring into alleged violations of gambling and law enforcement in the City of Vineland, which statements and sworn testimony accused you of certain criminal acts; consorting with known criminals; conduct unbecoming an officer; conduct subversive of good order and the discipline of the Police Force; failure to report known violations of law; accepting a bribe or favor as a consideration either for the performance or non-performance of your duty, and other acts of omission or commission as the Chief of Police of the City of Vineland, contrary to the laws of the State of New Jersey and the ordinances of the City of Vineland.
(b) In accordance with the provisions of Title 11, Revised Statutes of New Jersey, Civil Service, you are hereby SUSPENDED without pay as of June 18, 1954, pending an investigation and the preferring of formal charges against you and a hearing before the Acting Director of Public Safety or the Mayor of the City of Vineland.
2. Unless you satisfactorily explain or defend the above charges, final disciplinary action will be taken against you in form of confirmation or modification of the above disciplinary action, or suspension for a longer period, or removal.
3. You are hereby notified that you will be granted a hearing before us at a time and place to be subsequently set, in accordance with the Statutes of the State of New Jersey and the Rules of the ...