Gilberton Police Chief Mark Kessler, center, talks with members of the Constitutional Security Force outside Gilberton Borough Hall before the Gilberton Borough Council meeting in Mahanoy Plane, Pa., Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (AP Photo/The Republican-Herald, Jacqueline Dormer)
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania police chief who posted a profanity-laden video online said Thursday he is reviewing the legality of his 30-day unpaid suspension for using borough weapons and ammunition without prior approval.
Gilberton Police Chief Mark Kessler believes he did have permission to use the equipment he was shown firing, and does not believe he did anything wrong.
“It’s a shame that they didn’t stand up for the Constitution,” Kessler said in a phone interview. “I might use some colorful language, I might have hurt some feelings, but I wasn’t out to hurt anybody.”
His attorney, Joseph P. Nahas, said Kessler “understands the punishment. He certainly cannot change their mind.” While they have not discussed potential litigation, Nahas said, Kessler has an employment contract and state law gives him certain protections as a chief of police.
Kessler said he is worried the borough council that voted 5-1 late Wednesday to suspend him may move to fire him before he is scheduled to return to the job. Kessler is a 14-year veteran of the one-man force in the town with a population of 800 in the heart of central Pennsylvania coal country.
Kessler said he purchased the ammunition and gun with his own money, among the many items he has funded for the police department. Kessler said Thursday his salary is $20,000 a year for the full-time position.
Calls seeking comment from the borough’s elected officials and the borough solicitor were not immediately returned Thursday.
Kessler’s websites and videos display strong feelings about gun rights, and he said he has received death threats.
“It’s disgusting that people stoop to that level,” Kessler said. “I didn’t threaten anybody. I made a video.”
A link on his home page solicits donations for his Constitutional Security Force to “push back tyrants (and) restore what our founding fathers started.”
Men wearing clothing that identified them as members of that force attended the borough council meeting Wednesday night. Kessler declined to say how many people make up the Constitutional Security Force.
The former coal miner drafted a resolution the borough council adopted earlier this year that calls for “nullifying” any federal, state or local laws that infringe on the Second Amendment.
Kessler posted his most recent video online after the suspension vote on Wednesday. It shows him firing a machine gun at a Texas gun range while on vacation.
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