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Police Chief Facing Termination Hearing
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
            East Greenville Borough Council has taken two steps to remove its police chief. Earlier this month, the members sent Andrew Skelton a letter informing him that his status had been changed to suspended without pay pending termination.
            On Monday, they unanimously approved a measure to hire a Bensalem Township attorney to oversee the police chief's termination hearing. Melissa Fiala, with Rudolph Clarke LLC, will officiate the hearing – mandated through the Police Tenure Act, which requires due process – according to Solicitor Michael Peters.
            He said during the public meeting that Mayor Keith Gerhart recommended that council dismiss Skelton for professional neglect and violation of his official duties.
Lawyers representing the borough and Skelton will both be permitted to submit evidence, examine and cross-examine witnesses, according to the solicitor. He also said after the meeting that Fiala will consider all evidence and rule on the outcome.
            "It will be very similar to a court proceeding," the solicitor said.
            Skelton, who has been off the job since 4 p.m. on Sept. 6, will decide whether or not the proceedings occur in public or private, according to Peters.  "That's up to him," the solicitor said after the meeting.
            Peters expressed hope that the hearing would convene "within weeks" and conclude as quickly as possible. 
            Reached Tuesday morning, Skelton said he was aware of the council's action to terminate. However, he declined to comment further. "Under the advice of counsel, it would be inappropriate for me to discuss the details of this unfortunate situation," he said 
            Fiala has served as the solicitor for the Richland Township Water Authority, the Borough of Perkasie Civil Service Commission and as a special counsel for the Middletown Borough Civil Service Commission. She has also worked as the assistant solicitor for the North Wales Water Authority, Northampton (Bucks County) Municipal   
            Authority and the Schwenksville Borough Authority, according to information posted on the law firm's website.
            Skelton, a retired state police trooper who grew up in Hereford, placed himself on unpaid leave in early September, citing a toxic work environment. A Sept. 3 disclosure by Gerhart on a proposal to install steel plates on three walls at the police station in Colonial Village appeared to trigger a safety concern between the chief and the mayor. Skelton described Gerhart's words as "reckless and negligent."  The police chief said the mayor's words put him and his staff at risk.
            Earlier this year, Skelton filed an age discrimination claim against the two council members. However, a West Chester law firm hired to investigate those allegations could not discover any facts to substantiate those claims. 
            The investigative report, completed by Lamb McErlane, PC, also identifies the appearance of "a toxic work environment because of differing personal, political and professional opinions." 





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