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Ex- police chief sues Slippery Rock officials

December 6, 2012 News Extra

PITTSBURGH — The fired Slippery Rock borough police chief is suing three borough officials in federal court for wrongful termination.

Terry Brown, who was fired in 2010, is suing borough council President Dave Miller, former borough council Vice President Blase Tucci and borough solicitor Neva Stanger.

The suit, filed Wednesday, alleges that Brown was fired because he did not support a proposed merger between the borough and Slippery Rock Township.

Brown, a township resident, had worked at the borough since 1986 and was named the chief in 2009.

In 2009 and 2010, the borough and the township were renegotiating a mutual aid agreement through which the borough police provided services to the township, which does not have a police force.

About that time, borough council members, including Tucci and Miller, began proposing that the two municipalities merge to form one municipality. The suit alleges that township residents and officials generally were opposed to the merger proposal.

However, the suit alleges that Tucci eventually said there would not be a mutual aid agreement and that the municipalities would have to merge if the township wanted borough police service.

Tucci, the suit said, later asked Brown to personally endorse the merger proposal and to attempt to get township support. Brown refused and noted that he could be fired if he engaged in political conduct related to the merger.

In December 2010 Brown was terminated by council over a police training incident.

He appealed to the borough’s civil service commission, which ruled that it did not have the authority to reinstate Brown but it did note that termination seemed a disproportionate punishment.

Brown claims the real reason he was fired was because of his lack of support for a merger.

Brown is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.