December 20, 2010
IN THE MATTER OF GERARD SLACK, VOORHEES TOWNSHIP.
On appeal from a Final Administrative Action of the Civil Service Commission, Docket No. 2008-572.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 1, 2010
Before Judges Fisher and Simonelli.
On August 24, 2006, appellant Gerard Slack, then a Sergeant in the Voorhees Township Police Department, was involved in a verbal and physical confrontation with two security officers while off duty attending a concert with his brother and other family members. As a result, the appointing authority charged him with conduct unbecoming a public employee, insubordination and neglect of duty.*fn1 On October 22, 2007, the appointing authority sustained the charges and imposed a sixty-day suspension.
Appellant appealed to the New Jersey Civil Service Commission (Commission). The matter was transferred to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
Finding appellant's and his brother's testimony about the confrontation not credible, the ALJ concluded in a comprehensive written initial decision that appellant engaged in conduct unbecoming a public employee when he physically and verbally abused one of the security officers with the intent to demean or intimidate her in violation of N.J.A.C. 4A:2-2.3(a)(6).*fn2 The ALJ reduced the suspension to ten days because appellant had no prior disciplinary record and did not instigate the incident that led to the confrontation.
In a final decision, the Commission adopted the ALJ's findings and conclusions as to the conduct unbecoming a public employee charge but not the penalty. The Commission found that a twenty-day suspension was appropriate based on the totality of the evidence, including the seriousness of the offense and the fact that police officers are held to a higher standard. This appeal followed.
On appeal, appellant argues that the record lacks sufficient credible evidence supporting the Commission's decision. 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, 483 (2007). We affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by the Commission in its final decision dated April 30, 2009.