Borough Police Chief Takes Senior Spot At PU Public Safety
After what has been called an "exhaustive search" by Princeton University officials, the school's Department of Public Safety has hired Princeton Borough Police Chief Charles Davall as its deputy director of operations.
Chief Davall, who had indicated four months ago that he was interested in the University post, submitted his formal resignation to the Borough on Thursday and will step down as police chief on January 31. He will begin his new job on February 7.
"Chief Davall at the University is a great benefit to the Borough" said Borough Mayor Joe O'Neill, adding that both the Township and Borough had been working with the University on various emergency response protocols.
"To have someone like Chuck Davall who knows everybody and knows who to talk to is a benefit to the entire community," Mr. O'Neill added.
Chief Davall, 47, will be second only to Public Safety Director Steven Healy and will handle daily operations as well as working to improve community partnerships, staff developments, and the department's problem-solving skills. His hiring indicates Public Safety's desire to enhance its role on campus. A 25-year veteran of Borough law enforcement, Chief Davall said he will use his knowledge of the community as a tool in his new post.
Calling his experience "ideally suited" for his upcoming responsibilities, Chief Davall, said ³Everything I'll be doing at the University I've already done here with the Borough Police Department," adding that "running a public safety organization is what I've done here for the last three-and-a-half years."
When Mr. Davall became chief in July 2001, he immediately sent waves throughout the University community by cracking down on underage and public drinking at the University's eating clubs and along Prospect Avenue. Although several students and faculty at the time felt the Borough Police had overstepped its bounds, Chief Davall said hard feelings had been calmed through outreach and relations-building efforts.
"I believe that those who know me and the eating club presidents don't base their opinions on just one incident but on all the good work and -communication that we've done before and particularly since I became chief.
"What I think we were successful in doing was bringing more attention to the [alcohol] issue and also putting procedures in place that actually had a positive impact on working to address dangerous levels of drinking and underage drinking."
As a result of those procedures, the Borough and the eating clubs instituted a plan where professional security was hired to administer wristbands to eating club attendees to determine whether they were of age or not. The initiative also allowed Borough Police to inspect the clubs. "The end result was that the charges against the eating club presidents were dropped," he said, pointing to once-pending lawsuits filed against club presidents.
Joking that he would have not applied for the job as deputy director of Public Safety if he thought he did not have a shot at getting it, Chief Davall said he always viewed himself as a contender for the post.
"I felt all along that I was a strong candidate, but when it came down to the final three, that's kind of when I felt my chances were pretty good," he said.
He added, however, that if he were not offered the job, it would have precluded his retirement from Borough Police, saying that he would have stayed on board for "at least" another five years. As a 25-year veteran of the force, he was already eligible to retire with a 65 percent state pension based on his current salary of $123,000 a year, but it was this job, Chief Davall said, that especially piqued his interest.
"What was important to me was being able to further improve the working relationship between the Borough Police and Public Safety and to make the campus and the Princeton community safer."
Borough Mayor O'Neill offered no indication as to who would succeed Chief Davall in the Borough, but the Borough did discuss possible candidates in closed session at a Council meeting last night. "Let's just say that we hope to move very quickly on an appointment, but at the same time, we are still committed to doing a study of both our command structure and the way our police force is deployed," he said. Administratively speaking, Borough Police Capt. Anthony Federico is a possible successor to Chief Davall.
Indicating a possible move to a 32-member police force from a 34-member force, Mr. O'Neill said it is "important we don't do this with blind budget motives, but [that] we know what the effect is in the area of community policing," adding that any administrative changes would occur only after consideration of recent gang-related events.