FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE -NEW JERSEY LABOR COUNCIL, INC., on behalf of the PENNSVILLE POLICE OFFICERS' ASSOCIATION, FOP LODGE NO. 6, Plaintiff-Appellant,
TOWNSHIP OF PENNSVILLE, Defendant-Respondent.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued May 30, 2013
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Salem County, Docket No. C-10-12.
Thomas A. Cushane argued the cause for appellant (The Cushane Law Firm, LLC, attorneys; Mr. Cushane, on the briefs).
Walter J. Ray argued the cause for respondent (Masten and Ray, attorneys; Mr. Ray, on the brief).
Before Judges Grall and Accurso.
Plaintiff Fraternal Order Of Police - New Jersey Labor Council, Inc., on behalf of the Pennsville Police Officers' Association, FOP Lodge No. 6 (FOP), appeals from a final order of the Chancery Division dismissing its complaint by which it sought to vacate an arbitration award. We affirm.
This appeal grows out of defendant Township of Pennsville's (Township) reprimand of a Township police officer, Patrolman Michael Gibison, for failure to attend a scheduled grand jury hearing for which he had been subpoenaed. Following an internal affairs investigation, the Township determined that Gibison had violated the Pennsville Police Department's (the Department) Rules and Regulations and issued him a written reprimand, which became a permanent part of his file.
Although acknowledging that the discipline imposed was appropriate and based on just cause, Gibison nevertheless grieved it, contending that he had been denied due process because the Department's Rules and Regulations had not been adopted by municipal ordinance. Following the denial of Gibison's grievance, the FOP filed a petition for grievance arbitration on his behalf before the Public Employment Relations Committee (PERC). The FOP challenged the validity of the Rules and Regulations under which Gibison had been disciplined and sought dismissal of the charge and removal of the written reprimand from Gibison's file.
The parties stipulated before PERC that Pennsville had duly adopted Ordinance A-29-96 (the Ordinance) providing for the creation of the Pennsville Police Department. The Ordinance designates the mayor as the civilian supervisory authority responsible for the overall performance of the police department, and directs that the mayor "shall, at all times, act with the advice and consent of the Township Committee." Twp. of Pennsville, N.J., Ordinance A-29-96, §13A.1-4 (1996). In the section entitled "Rules and Regulations" the Ordinance provides:
In addition to the other requirements of law and this Ordinance, the Police Department and the force shall be governed by the Rules and Regulations adopted by Resolution of the Township Committee. These Rules and Regulations may be amended, revised or repealed from time to time as the Township Committee shall determine by further Resolution.
[Id. at §13A.1-6.]
The parties further stipulated that the Pennsville Township Committee had adopted the Department's Rules and ...