On his last day on the job Friday, May 16, it was business as usual for Police Sergeant Mike Cifelli at his desk in the Princeton Police Department building on Valley Road. Although he doesn’t officially retire until June 30, accrued vacation time will allow the 26-year veteran to take time off so that he can catch up with son Matt, 11, and daughter Connie, 13.
During his years on the force, Mr. Cifelli has done his fair share of shift work and is looking forward to more regular hours. “That’s the nature of the job,” he said. “I missed out on a lot of family gatherings and activities. It’s hard to say I want to make up for lost time, but I’ll give it a try.”
“While we hate to see him leave we are so happy for him and for his family and the time they can now catch up on,” commented Police Chief Nick Sutter. “We have all been enriched by our professional and personal relationships with Mike.”
Mr. Cifelli graduated from the Camden County Police Academy in 1988 and was immediately hired by the Montgomery Police Department. He served in the Patrol Division there until June of 1993 when he was hired by the Princeton Township Police Department. His hire allowed him to follow in the footsteps of his stepfather, Sgt. Jerry Offredo.
Promoted from Patrolman to Corporal in 1998, Mr. Cifelli was made Sergeant in the Patrol Division in April 2007. During this time period he was a Field Training Officer, Firearms Instructor, and Head Firearms Instructor.
Besides being an instructor at Mercer County Police Academy, he has served as President of PBA Local #130 and on the Negotiations Committee as well as on many department committees such as the Honor Guard, Awards Program, and others.
Since 20011, he has been the Princeton Police Department’s Press Information Officer, as part of the Community Services Bureau, where he initiated the Department’s Facebook page, Twitter Account, Nixle program, as well as two popular Tweet-a-Thons.
For his work in this capacity, particularly his skills at relaying information during severe storms to the public, he received a letter of thanks from Mayor Liz Lempert.
“Sgt. Cifelli changed the way our police department communicates with the public,” said Ms. Lempert by email Sunday. “He embraced technology and used it to help the entire department better serve the public, especially by keeping residents up to date on the latest information during emergencies like the snowstorms this past winter. He also started the tradition of the police Tweet-a-thon to shine a light on the every day workings of the department. I’m very sad to see him go, and wish him all the best.”
The official letter from the mayor was one of many thank yous and commendations from both inside and outside of the police department that Mr. Cifelli has received for various incidents, either for his work alone or for his work as a part of a team. He has received two Meritorious Service Awards.
“Mike really helped us pioneer through the development of the electronic/social media communications,” said Princeton Administrator Robert Bruschi. “He had Princeton involved in this early on and has set a very high bar for us to continue to reach for. He is a genuine nice guy who cares about the community and the organization.”
Introducing social media to the department is something of which he is proud. He’s also quite surprised at how the social media effort has taken off. “It’s become much bigger than any of us appreciated at the time,” he said, adding that it began as a way of putting the department’s best foot forward. “And it has certainly done that,” said the police sergeant, who described his retirement as “bittersweet.”
“Anytime you look at taking a step as big as this is I think you look at it as bittersweet,” commented Mr. Bruschi. “I think we feel the same way. Mike has been such an asset to the organization that we hate to lose him but you also recognize that the job as a police officer takes a lot of time away from your family. I know he is looking forward to spending time enjoying all of the activities that many of us take for granted.”
“Sgt. Cifelli has served this department well over his career and retires with the satisfaction of a job well done. Many of our current supervisors were trained by Sgt. Cifelli and his legacy will continue,” stated a press release from the department that goes on to say “The Princeton Police Department wishes Sgt. Cifelli the best of health and good fortune in all of his future endeavors.”
On leaving the department, Mr. Cifelli said it felt like the right time. “The department is heading in a new direction now and I’m glad to have been a part of that. It’s in good hands with Nick Sutter as chief and they can carry on without me.”
“It has been a fantastic, rewarding career and I’m leaving with memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.”
As Press Information Officer, he will be replaced by Sergeant Steven Riccitello.
Police Commissioner Heather Howard said: “From my perspective, Sgt. Cifelli’s accomplishments in leading the police department’s efforts to increase communications with the community through social media have set a high standard for us to meet moving forward. We are going to miss him.”
As for Mr. Cifelli, he’s is already looking ahead to summer. “We usually have a family vacation together and this summer will be extra special.” Matt and Connie have much to look forward to.