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Township of Moorestown v. Armstrong

Decided: December 23, 1965.

TOWNSHIP OF MOORESTOWN, APPELLANT,
v.
RONALD K. ARMSTRONG AND DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL SERVICE OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, RESPONDENTS



Sullivan, Lewis and Kolovsky. The opinion of the court was delivered by Sullivan, S.j.a.d.

Sullivan

The Township of Moorestown appeals from so much of the decision and final order of the Civil Service Commission as reduced the penalty imposed on Ronald K. Armstrong by the township from removal to suspension for six months without pay.

Armstrong was a patrolman in the police department of the Township of Moorestown, having been appointed March 14, 1961. He served until September 1963, when he was suspended from duty and charged with conduct unbecoming an employee of the public service. The specifications of charges made at that time were as follows:

(1) In that while driving his own personal vehicle with an expired registration and without current inspection, Officer Ronald K. Armstrong became involved in an accident on State Route 38 in the Township of Maple Shade, west of Lenola Road, at approximately 2 A.M., September 21, 1963, and failed to report said accident to the proper authority.

(2) In that on August 12, 1963, the Director of Public Safety did administer a severe reprimand to Officer Armstrong because of insufficient notification of absence due to illness on August 8, failure to report for duty with no notice whatsoever on August 10, and tardiness on August 12, 1963; and furthermore, Officer Armstrong was placed on notice by the Director that additional unbecoming conduct would result in his separation from Township employment.

(3) In that on July 17, 1963, after an altercation with his wife, Officer Armstrong threatened to take his own life with a shotgun, threatened to kill the chief of police, and threatened to abandon his home and job, after a check in payment of rent had been returned from the bank because of insufficient funds.

(4) In that on May 30, 1963, Officer Armstrong did physically abuse his wife and place his family in fear by misuse of firearms, and that because of Officer Armstrong's instability and improper use of firearms, the chief of police did issue orders on May 31, 1963, later confirmed by the Director of Public Safety, that said Officer Armstrong be suspended from duty for five (5) days without pay, and that upon his return Officer Armstrong be limited to desk duty, not be allowed to drive a police car and that all departmental firearms which had been taken from him not be restored until such time as the officer's conduct warranted.

(5) In that on Tuesday, October 23, 1962, Officer Armstrong was placed on report for chronic lateness and non-appearance for duty.

(6) In that the above series of incidents indicates Officer Armstrong's instability and immaturity, and his effectiveness for normal police duty is thereby impaired to such a degree as to make his future employment unadvisable.

The original date for hearing was set for October 3, 1963, but was adjourned at the request of Armstrong's counsel. On November 20, 1963 Armstrong was served with amended specifications which included the six original charges and added an additional four charges as follows:

(7) In that on or about July 12, 1963, Officer Armstrong issued a check in the amount of $5.00 drawn to the order of "Cash," which check was not honored because of the lack of sufficient funds to cover the same when presented.

(8) In that on or about July 16, 1963, Officer Armstrong issued a check in the amount of $5.00 drawn to the ...


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