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East Greenville Termination Hearing Scheduled
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2019-01-03

Police chief facing dismissal hopes to tell the public his story.

 

            Andrew Skelton's status as chief of the Borough of East Greenville Police Department could be determined within days. Though Tuesday's termination hearing will be private, Skelton has expressed a willingness to communicate with the public regarding the nature of his inactivity.  If his legal counsel permits, the police chief would be willing to meet with any person or group after the hearing to discuss the recent sequence of events.

            "It appears that the public may be of the opinion that I simply walked away from the job. But that is not the case," Skelton wrote in a Dec. 18 email to the Town and Country. "There are many details to the story that have yet to be told. As I have said since my initial hiring in May of 2017, I have nothing to hide from the residents of East Greenville, and they deserve to have all of the information."

            According to information disclosed by the police chief, and confirmed a legal advertisement submitted to the newspaper, the hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Jan. 8 at Borough Hall. Skelton – who will be represented by who will be represented by a lawyer from Sydney L. Gold and Associates, a Philadelphia-based law firm – has also consented to the release of any transcripts or documents to the public or the press.

            Mayor Keith Gerhart recommended that Borough Council dismiss Skelton – who took himself off duty at 4 p.m. on Sept. 6 for an undisclosed reason – for professional neglect and violation of his official duties, according to Michael Peters, East Greenville's solicitor. 

            Lawyers representing the borough and Skelton will both be permitted to submit evidence, examine and cross-examine witnesses, according to Peters. Melissa Fiala, a Bensalem Township attorney hired by borough council, will officiate the hearing.

            Municipal officials declined to provide any additional details on the hearing, which was approved by council. The solicitor, President Angie Fegely and Gerhart refused to answer a series of questions, including whether or not Joseph Rudolf – a labor and employment lawyer hired by council to consult on police issues – would represent East Greenville.

            "The borough does not comment on ongoing personnel matters," Peters wrote in a Dec. 10 message. "There is no additional public information to be shared at this time."

            Skelton, a retired Pennsylvania state trooper and Hereford native, was hired in May of 2017 to advise council on the creation of a new police department. He was named the interim chief later in the month. The position was made permanent two months later.

            In September, one day before placing himself on leave, Skelton expressed shock at a decision by Gerhart to publically disclose details of Project X at the borough's police station located in Colonial Village during a Sept. 3 council meeting. Municipal officials had previously attempted to keep that activity secret, citing officer security.

            The police chief described the disclosure as "reckless and negligent," adding that the mayor's words put him and his staff at risk. After the meeting, Gerhart said he made the announcement because a current member of council discussed the details at a public meeting earlier this year.

            Further, the mayor claimed that the proposal to install steel plates at the station was mentioned during meetings in 2017 and that those references are reflected in the corresponding meeting minutes.

            "Even if the mayor's statement that Project X was revealed publically prior to the meeting was true, I see no valid reason why he would have to disclose the information," Skelton said the day after the meeting. According to the police chief, the mayor should have considered continuing to refer to the project as Project X until the work was completed.

            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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