On appeal from a Final Administrative Action of the Civil Service Commission, CSC Docket No. 2009-722.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 1, 2010
Before Judges Fisher and Simonelli.
On February 29, 2008, appellant Gerard Slack, then a Sergeant in the Township of Voorhees Police Department, was dispatched to respond to a domestic violence call at a shopping mall. He failed to promptly respond, file domestic violence charges against the suspect, and comply with the order of the Chief of Police to submit a written explanation of his conduct. As a result, the appointing authority charged him with insubordination, conduct unbecoming a public employee and neglect of duty. A hearing officer sustained the charges and imposed a thirty-day suspension.
Appellant appealed to the Merit System Board, now known as the Civil Service Commission (Commission). The matter was transferred to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
There was largely no dispute that appellant engaged in the alleged conduct. However, appellant testified that he had not heard the initial dispatch or knew it involved domestic violence, and he delayed responding until he received a second dispatch call because he had responded to an ostensibly non-emergent matter at a different location, where he also engaged in personal matters. He also claimed he was the victim of disparate treatment and retaliation by the Chief of Police.
Finding appellant's testimony "inherently incredible and inconsistent with" other credible evidence, in a written initial decision dated March 23, 2009, the ALJ sustained the charges and affirmed the thirty-day suspension based on appellant's prior disciplinary record and the egregiousness of his conduct. In a written decision dated April 29, 2009, the Commission adopted the ALJ's initial decision and affirmed. This appeal followed.
On appeal, appellant argues that the record lacks sufficient credible evidence to support the Commission's decision, the ALJ's summary dismissal of his claim of disparate treatment and retaliation was arbitrary and capricious, and the thirty-day suspension is excessive. Having considered these arguments in light of the record and applicable legal principles, we conclude they are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). The Commission's decision, including the penalty imposed, was not arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable, and was supported by sufficient credible evidence in the record. In re Carter, 191 N.J. 474, 482-83 (2007).
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