February 6, 2019

Police Promote Two, Swear In New Recruits, Emphasize Leadership

By Donald Gilpin

Further bolstering its leadership structure and strengthening the department for future challenges, the Princeton Police Department (PPD) last week promoted two officers and swore in eight new officers in a ceremony at the municipal building.

Two longtime PPD veterans, Captain Christopher Morgan and Corporal James Martinez, received their promotions, as PPD Chief Nick Sutter cited their demonstration of the department’s professionalism and its values of knowledge, honor, integrity, and service.

“Captain Morgan and Corporal Martinez are two of the shining examples in our department of the core values of the department,” Sutter said. “They are respected and seasoned leaders who lead our department in furtherance of the tenets of 21st-century policing.  I am very proud and honored to have them as colleagues.”

He further noted that Corporal Martinez replaced a corporal who retired and that the promotions make the structure one chief, one captain, and three lieutenants.

Morgan, who joined the Princeton Township Police Department (PTPD) in 2000, after three years in the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, has received the Honorable Service Award and the Mercer County Volunteer of the Year Award from the Governor’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, as well as numerous other service awards. He served as patrol officer, corporal, lieutenant, and acting chief of the PTPD.

Martinez, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, earning the National Defense Medal and the Good Conduct Medal before joining the Princeton Borough Police Department 25 years ago, has served as a senior officer for more than 17 years. He has received the Exceptional Duty Award, the Meritorious Service Award, and numerous other honors.

The eight new police officers, six men and two women, who were sworn in last week bring to the PPD a wide range of backgrounds and experience, Sutter said.

Officer Joseph Avanzato, a graduate of Rider University and the Mercer County Police Academy, received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Rider and is currently working on a master’s degree.

Officer Erin Cipolloni plans to graduate from William Paterson University in May with a psychology degree, and she has completed an internship at the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.

Officer Dante Focarelli graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Kean University, where he played football for four years and won New Jersey Athletic Conference All-Conference recognition. 

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Officer David Garcia earned several awards in military service, including the U.S. Air Force Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

Officer Terry King, who earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Stockton University, also studied abroad in the United Kingdom at the University of Reading. 

Officer McLean Lipschutz received a bachelor’s degree in physical education from the University of Alabama and also graduated from the Gloucester County Police Academy.

Officer Rebecca Nelson, with a bachelor’s degree in education from Rowan University, also graduated from the Ocean County Class 1 Police Academy and served as a Class 1 special police officer with the Point Pleasant Beach Police Department.

A U.S. Navy veteran, Officer Brandon Rios earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal law and business administration from The College of New Jersey.

Six of the new officers will enroll in the Mercer County Police Academy next month for further training. The other two, Avanzato and Lipschutz, are already certified and will go immediately into in-service training in the field training program with the PPD. 

Sutter noted that these promotions and new recruits constitute progress in understanding and working towards the department’s mission of meeting the key tenets of 21st-century policing, with community policing fostering cooperation among police, citizens, and local decision-makers.