Conford, Gaulkin and Kilkenny. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kilkenny, J.A.D.
Plaintiff, a sergeant in the Woodbridge Township Police Department, appeals from a judgment of the Superior Court, Law Division, denying his request for an order dismissing certain departmental charges outstanding against him and for an order restoring him to his position.
Plaintiff contends before us, as he did in the Law Division, that the charges preferred against him by the acting chief of police should be dismissed because the trial of the charges was not "commenced" within 30 days after service of a copy thereof upon him, as required by N.J.S.A. 40:47-6 and 40:47-8.
The facts, necessary for disposition of this appeal, are not in dispute. The acting chief of police preferred written charges against the plaintiff, a copy thereof was served upon him personally on September 14, 1962, and he was suspended as of that date pending a hearing on the charges. At the time of service of a copy of the charges plaintiff acknowledged over his signature at the bottom of the chief's letter of September 12, 1962, to the chairman of the Department of Safety, the following:
"On September 14, 1962, Sergeant Ressel was apprised of the above complaint for the infractions listed hereon of the Police Rules and Regulations.
He was apprised that he could select any date within the next thirty (30) days of this date and to prepare for his defense and also that he may secure the services of an attorney for his defense.
Sgt. Ressel pleaded not guilty to the charges and requested a departmental hearing. Police Chief Nels J. Lauritzen accepted the not guilty plea and suspended Sgt. Ressel from the Township of Woodbridge Police Force until hearing and disposition [ sic ] of case.
Suspension effective as of September 14, 1962."
Ten days later, on September 24, 1962, a letter covering the enclosure of a copy of a letter of the same date to the State Department of Civil Service, and a copy of State Civil Service Form CS31A, Preliminary Notice of Disciplinary Action, was sent to plaintiff by the Woodbridge Township personnel officer. Both the letter to the Civil Service Department and the CS31A form mentioned that the police department had granted to Ressel the right to select the date of hearing within 30 days from September 14, 1962, the date of service of the charges on him.
On or about the second week in October 1962 plaintiff had not yet fixed a hearing date and it became evident to the municipal officials that Ressel might possibly not select a hearing date himself. So, after consultation with the members of the police committee of the township committee, a letter dated October 10, 1962, and fixing October 23, 1962 as the date for the hearing, was forwarded to plaintiff.
On October 23, 1962 Ressel appeared with counsel and challenged the jurisdiction of the police committee to hear the charges as being out of time under N.J.S.A. 40:47-6 and 40:47-8. By consent of all parties the hearing was adjourned until settlement of the question ...