Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 12
 
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
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As Borough Police Case Closes, Prosecutor’s Contract is Extended

Dilshanie Perera

The final chapter of the Borough’s Police case closed last month as the administrative hearing of Sergeant Kevin Creegan ended with his resignation from the police force. Borough Council also recently decided to extend its contract with Arthur Thibault, the independent prosecutor in Mr. Creegan’s hearing.

In February of 2008, three Borough police officers were suspended with pay following an internal affairs investigation. Sergeant Kenneth Riley, Patrolman William Perez, and Mr. Creegan were part of the same investigation, though only Mr. Riley was indicted on six criminal charges by a Mercer County grand jury in September, whereupon his pay was suspended.

Charged with two counts of computer criminal activity, two counts of unlawful access and disclosure of computer data, and two counts of official misconduct, Mr. Riley had allegedly accessed the police department’s “Mobile Vision Recorder” without prior authorization.

Mr. Perez resigned in December of last year, and with the resignation of Mr. Creegan, the case closed abruptly.

Members of Borough Council had worried that the suspension of the officers with pay was costing taxpayers, and had expressed disapproval during numerous meetings, and to the Mercer County Prosecutor.

In a recent Borough meeting, Council member Roger Martindell wondered to whom independent prosecutors hired by the Borough report, suggesting that extending the contract with Mr. Thibault could be “an opportunity to make more appropriate how we oversee our police department.”

Council members David Goldfarb, Andrew Koontz, and Mayor Mildred Trotman all noted that they were not dissatisfied with the quality of Mr. Thibault’s reaction, while Mr. Martindell suggested “we need to be more responsive, not just that [Mr. Thibault] should report to one or two members of staff and leave us with paying the bills.”

A motion by Mr. Martindell to table the decision about Mr. Thibault’s contract until after a discussion with the public safety committee received no second.

Mr. Goldfarb noted that he “shares some of Roger’s concerns in the abstract” but is “satisfied with the quality of Mr. Thibault’s work.” Council member Kevin Wilkes agreed, saying, “I support Roger’s sentiments, but don’t feel the need to hold Mr. Thibault’s paycheck hostage,” as part of the contract extension involved some monies already owed to Mr. Thibault.

The discussion concluded with Council voting to extend Mr. Thibault’s contract with the Borough in order to be able to hire him as a prosecutor in the future for an amount not to exceed $20,000.

In a letter to the editor of Town Topics, run in last week’s issue, Mr. Martindell lamented elements of the process that delayed the resolution of the police case, writing, “elected officials tend to avoid even reasonable oversight of local police. In the case of Princeton Borough, that has been at great cost to the taxpayers.”

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