December 06, 2017

Pa. police officer suspended after going to church on duty

Police Religion
11012017_police_badge_iStock aijohn784/iStock.com

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A police officer in Middletown, Dauphin County, was suspended for 10 days this week because he went to church while on duty.

Middletown Council voted 4-1 on Tuesday to suspend Mark Hovan on the recommendation from Police Chief George Mouchette, the Press & Journal reported. It was not clear whether Hovan was suspended with or without pay.

The suspension was tied to Hovan's attending a Catholic Mass while on duty in August.

Hovan, who has reportedly been with the department since 1998, told the Press & Journal last month that he had gone to church while on duty throughout his career and that it was necessary at times while on duty because of shift changes.

The department had cracked down on the practice this year, he said.

Hovan, who briefly served as the borough's police chief before resigning from the position in January 2013, argued that the suspension violated his religious freedom.

He told PennLive that he had been considering legal action.