Chief Federico Begins New Post Within a Changing Community
After serving the Princeton Borough Police Department for 25 years as both an officer and captain, Anthony Federico was appointed to the position of chief of police by Borough Council last week. And, Chief Federico couldn't be more thrilled.
"This is basically my community; I've lived here my whole life," he said in a recent interview. As all administrative positions in the police department are geared toward preparing for the chief's position, Chief Federico said that, after serving as captain for almost four years, he was looking forward to moving up to head of the department: "It's quite an honor to be able to be chief of police in the community you grew up in, and have worked for throughout your adult career."
Remembering Princeton as a "quiet, sleepy-type community with a small-town atmosphere," he said that he has watched the town grow to become a small city over the years, recalling that when he began foot patrol back in 1980, downtown shops were closed on Sunday, and patrolling would end by 8 p.m.
But now, he said, patrol officers are on the watch as late as 3 a.m.: "There was hardly anybody even walking around [back then]. Now on a Sunday afternoon you can't even walk down the sidewalk because there's so many people."
Born and raised in Princeton, Chief Federico, 50, currently resides in Lawrenceville with his wife, Lisa, and 22-year-old son, Tony. His mother still resides in Princeton Township.
After attending St. Paul School and graduating from Princeton High School, he left the area to attend the University of Dayton, Ohio, where he pursued a bachelor's degree in history. Taking an interest in law enforcement after graduation, he soon found himself back in the area, working for the State Department of Treasury. After briefly holding a position there, he took on a job in Princeton University's Department of Public Safety, until he became an officer for the Borough Police Department, where he has remained since.
A New Leader
As a leader in the Princeton Borough community, the new chief said his main focus is to make sure that the department provides the best services it can for its residents, and keeps community policing at the forefront of its goals.
One of the primary issues the Borough is hoping to tackle in the near future is the possible merger of the Borough and Township police departments. And the Borough can count on Chief Federico to be on board.
"I am pro-consolidation. I think it would be a benefit to the community as a whole, and a cost-saver," he said.
After working side-by-side with former Chief Chuck Davall for the entire duration of his career here, Chief Federico says he plans to keep the department running rather similarly to his predecessor.
"Our styles may be a little different, our personalities may be a little different, but we worked together as a team and the way the department operated under Chief Davall is very similar to how it will be run under my watch," he said, adding that he believes in team management and having an open-door policy in his office.
Now that former Chief Davall will serve as a University liaison to the Borough, assuming the position of deputy director of public operations in Princeton University's Department of Public Safety, the two will be working together again on a regular basis.
The former Borough chief said he has total confidence in Chief Federico's ability to run the department: "I'm very excited and happy for him. It's a challenge he's well prepared for, and I think he'll do a great job."
Over the last few years, both men have initiated meetings with the University's eating clubs to go over the Borough's laws on alcohol and underage drinking. Once the clubs elect their new presidents next month, the chief said he intends to hold another meeting.
However, the issues of underage drinking and binge drinking have been a problem at the University and in the Borough for years, and the new chief expects to continue facing these issues during his leadership.
"The alcohol issue has always been a problem that we've had to deal with over my career. I certainly would like it to stop, but I don't know that's going to be possible," he said.
With gang violence on the rise in Princeton, the chief is entering his new leadership position at a difficult time for the Borough Police. But the department is keeping on top of the problem, he said.
"We're trying to address some of the problems before they get worse than what they are," he said, adding that the department recently went through gang awareness training, and is working with the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office on a gang awareness program for all Mercer County police departments.
Confirming that Princeton has definitive gang ties to both Trenton and New Brunswick, Chief Federico said that the department has been in direct contact with the other police departments to keep abreast of the issue.
"That's been a real eye-opener," he said.
While hiring resource officers for the schools would be an independent decision that would be made by the Princeton Regional School District, Chief Federico said that if the district decides to head in that direction, he will support the decision.
"I think the pros outweigh the cons. The security a resource officer could provide would be of great assistance," he said.
Maintaining the peace is what the Borough Police Department is here for, and that's what it will continue to do, said Chief Federico.
"We have obviously always had crime," he said, mentioning credit card thefts, burglaries, and shoplifting as ongoing problems in the community.
However, during his 25 years of service, Chief Federico has kept a watchful eye on the Borough, and says he intends to see that Princeton stays the same in the ways that matter, despite the many changes it is constantly undergoing.