SANATOGA PA – A Lower Pottsgrove police officer, his labor bargaining unit, and the township Board of Commissioners have agreed on a settlement over a police department disciplinary action in dispute since July (2011).
The board, during its meeting Thursday (Dec. 15, 2011), approved a proposed settlement with Lower Pottsgrove Police Ofc. Matthew Meitzler, in which he accepted a two-shift suspension from duty related to a traffic accident involving a police vehicle he was driving. However, the officer’s salary docked for each shift will be divided between the 2011 and 2012 calendar years, commissioners said, rather than be withheld in a single year.
Meitzler has already served the suspension, commissioners noted. They authorized board President Jonathan Spadt to sign the agreement, following its awaited approval by Meitzler’s labor representatives.
The discipline was issued by Police Chief Michael Shade, with the board’s approving vote July 7, after a car Meitzler was driving earlier near Sunnybrook Ballroom, East High Street, Sanatoga, hit a light pole. Manager Rodney Hawthorne said the vehicle was at the time the department’s newest cruiser.
Meitzler’s objection to the original suspension of two 12-hour shifts was lodged in a grievance by the uniformed officers’ bargaining unit. That ultimately prompted the township to schedule a hearing on the matter before its Civil Service Commission, and require commissioners to plan for payment of two attorneys’ attendance: one a labor law specialist to represent Lower Pottsgrove, and a second to advise the Civil Service Commission itself.
The board also had to grant a special waiver dismissing a perceived conflict of interest with a third attorney, representing Meitzler, whose firm does unrelated work for the township Zoning Hearing Board.
The Dec. 14 hearing, advertised as a legal notice, was canceled in anticipation of the settlement. Spadt acknowledged the township incurred several costs in the case, the total of which was not estimated. “We had expenses, sure, but a hearing would have been even more expensive,” he said. The settlement had been discussed in executive session Thursday before the board meeting, Spadt reported.
Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Dec. 15 meeting):