Falls Twp. reaches settlement with former police chief

Posted: November 15, 2001

FALLS — After a year of contentious public hearings and litigation, the tumultuous relationship between former Police Chief Arnie Conoline and the township is over.

The two sides reached a settlement last week under which Conoline resigned the post he held for five years in exchange for $800,000, plus $77,500 severance. He also agreed to drop two lawsuits stemming from the exhaustive disciplinary hearings into a failed December drug sting.

"Over the past year, there were substantial differences between the Board of Supervisors and Conoline. Conoline has been exonerated of prior disciplinary charges," according to a statement released by the township and Conoline. "This settlement came about because the parties agreed that it was best for everyone involved to end this matter now."

In a separate statement, Conoline said he would seek a similar job in public service or law enforcement.

"Now that this matter has been resolved, my family and I have decided to put it behind us. Even though my relationship with the Falls Township Board of Supervisors may have been contentious at times, I continued to hold . . . the tremendous responsibility entrusted to me. It was a privilege and honor to serve and protect the citizens of this community and an opportunity that I will never forget."

Conoline was suspended in December for not cooperating with an internal review of the drug sting that month in Morrisville. He was reinstated in March after disciplinary hearings against him were abruptly halted. A week later, Lt. Neil Harkins was promoted to deputy chief to handle police operations, leaving Conoline with administrative duties.

Conoline filed a state appeal under the Police Tenure Act, saying Harkins' promotion amounted to a reduction in his rank. He also filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the supervisors, saying the township's actions were retaliatory.

With the settlement, Harkins has been named acting chief and Sgt. Wynne Cloud acting deputy chief, Township Manager Wayne Bergman said.

Bergman said the board would make long-term decisions about department leadership after it reviewed a 300-page report prepared by a consultant hired to make recommendations on police operations.

Kayce T. Ataiyero's e-mail address is kataiyero@phillynews.com.

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