GunnerVV (Creative Commons)

Police officer suspended for attending church while on duty

A Christian police officer has been suspended from his post for ten days after admitting that he attended church while on duty.

Middletown Borough Council in the US state of Pennsylvania approved Mark Hovan's penalty, following a recommendation by local police chief George Mouchette.

Mr Hovan told the local Press & Journal news website: "I never lied about it".

The patrol officer was summoned to a meeting with Mr Mouchette on 7th November in a letter which made four accusations of 'neglect of duty' and 'inefficiency' against him.

Mr Hovan told the Press & Journal said he had been going to church during shifts throughout his 19-year service at Middletown Police Department in order to mark six Catholic holy days.

A devout Catholic, Mr Hovan previously received a warning after he attended Mass on 8th January 2017.

It is unclear whether the patrol officer will be paid during his suspension period, a punishment which was borough councillors passed by four votes to one - plus one abstention.

In an earlier interview with the Press & Journal, Mr Movan claimed his constitutional right to practise freedom of religion had been "infringed upon" and that the police department had made "no accommodation" for his religious beliefs.

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