April 17, 2013

Special Council Meeting Could Decide the Fate of Police Chief Dudeck

A special session of Princeton Council to discuss and likely vote on a separation agreement with Police Chief David Dudeck will take place Thursday starting at 5 p.m. A notice for the meeting was posted Monday on the Princeton website, saying the topic to be discussed is “Personnel С David Dudeck,” and that formal action may be taken.

The Council last met April 8 to discuss the situation. Mr. Dudeck has been absent from his post since February 27, following allegations by the police union of administrative misconduct over the past two years. Captain Nick Sutter has been running the department in the absence of Mr. Dudeck, who has been a member of the force since 1983.

According to Mayor Liz Lempert, the April 18 meeting will begin with an open session, where members of the public will be permitted to comment. The Council will then go into closed session and return by 6 p.m. to vote, if there is a vote, in open session. Ms. Lempert also said that while the AvalonBay situation regarding the former Princeton hospital site may also be on the agenda, no vote will be taken on that matter.

“It is only to get an update on where the litigation stands,” she said, referring to the settlement approved by the Planning Board earlier this month that allows the developer to submit a revised application for the site, and avoids the lawsuit that AvalonBay filed against the town and the Planning Board last February when AvalonBay’s original application was voted down.

Ms. Lempert was reluctant to say that a vote will definitely be taken on a separation agreement with Mr. Dudeck. The police union has threatened to sue if Mr. Dudeck does not retire. Princeton’s public safety committee originally gave him a deadline of March 4 to decide whether to retire or face an investigation, but that deadline was subsequently extended. Mr. Dudeck has officially been on sick leave since February 27.

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office has been reviewing the allegations against Mr. Dudeck, which include “locker room language,” inappropriate jokes and gestures when talking to officers. Mr. Dudeck was Princeton Borough police chief until consolidation last January, when he became chief of the combined municipalities’ force. No complaints were filed until after consolidation.

The meeting on Thursday will be held in the main meeting room of Witherspoon Hall, formerly known as the Municipal Building.

—Anne Levin