Princeton Councilwoman Jo Butler is being investigated by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office for a 911 call she made on September 18 from the Dinky train station parking lot when no emergency was apparent. Contacting 911 without an emergency is a fourth degree indictable crime in New Jersey.
Princeton Patch, the online news website, first reported last Wednesday that Ms. Butler had made the call, which went to the Princeton Police dispatch. When an operator responded, Ms. Butler asked the dispatcher whether she was calling Princeton University’s Department of Public Safety or Princeton Police. When the dispatcher ignored her question and asked the nature of the emergency, Ms. Butler hung up.
The operator then called back. Ms. Butler said she was “an elected official” and did not mention an emergency. Ms. Butler has since said she made the call because of concerns she has about which organization responds to such calls.
Ms. Butler has been particularly vocal about this question. At the September 23 Council meeting, she asked whether calls made from a cell phone are sent to the town’s police or the University’s public safety department. Princeton police lieutenant Chris Morgan said, at first, that the university’s internal security program would get the call. Kristin Appelget, the University’s Director of Community and Regional Affairs, said she thought a call to 911 from a cell phone, made from the parking lot, would be directed to the town, adding, “But let’s clarify that.”
Asked for comment this week via email, Ms. Butler said she cannot voice an opinion while the matter is under investigation, but added, “This is an issue about which I have expressed much concern.”
Assistant Mercer County Prosecutor Kathleen Petrucci said yesterday that the case is still under investigation.