June 24, 2020

Police Chief Sutter Announces Retirement

By Donald Gilpin

Nicholas Sutter, Princeton Police Department (PPD) chief over the past seven years, will be retiring on October 1, 2020. Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert called him “a transformative leader.”

“I am filled with mixed emotions,” Sutter said, following his June 22 announcement. “This is the right time for me and the department. However 25 years here has been over half my life, so this decision was not easy.”

Sutter, 49, began his career in Princeton as a Borough patrol officer in 1995, served as captain from 2010 to 2013, and took charge of the department in its first year of consolidation in 2013 after former Chief David Dudeck’s forced departure amid allegations of misconduct.

“Nick has been a transformative leader during a time of great change, and he has been a model for how police can proactively engage with community partners, build meaningful relationships of trust, and be open and embracing of change to strengthen the department,” said Lempert.  “He will leave behind a department that has grown more diverse, more community-oriented, and more progressive because of his efforts. He has been a leader, mentor, and role model, not just within the police department but across the entire municipal government. I am a better mayor because of him, and am forever thankful for all he has done for Princeton.”

Sutter’s longtime colleague, former Sergeant Fred Williams, who now serves as press information officer for the municipality of Princeton, reflected on his work with Sutter in the PPD.  “I spent close to 20 of my 30 years in law enforcement here in Princeton,” he said. “When I learned of Chief Sutter’s recent retirement plans, I realized, unfortunately, all good things really do come to an end. Having worked closely with him on matters and programs that directly impacted our Princeton community, I can say his support was always genuine, enthusiastic, and unwavering. I’d also add that his ability to bridge gaps and overcome barriers to bring solutions to the table is his greatest asset. He will be leaving the Princeton PD well prepared and poised for success in a new era of modern day, 21st-century policing.”

Princeton Council President David Cohen praised Sutter’s service to Princeton and his ability to set an exemplary tone for the PPD. “I hope people will know what I mean when I call him a real mensch!” Cohen wrote in an email. “In my time on Council I have not once been disappointed when we have asked him for information about how the police do their jobs, or ideas about how to foster constructive relations between the police and the community. Every one of my interactions with members of the force have been positive, and I credit the chief with setting the tone from the top down. He is a public servant in the truest sense of the term, and he will be sorely missed.”

In his announcement Sutter stated, “Leading this department for over seven years has been the culmination of a lifelong dream. My colleagues have become my extended family. It is the men and women of this department and my friendships with all of them that have made this decision so difficult. I am honored to have served this community for all of these years.”

He described his colleagues in the PPD as “the finest men and women law enforcement has to offer” and emphasized their readiness to face the significant challenges that policing faces in contemporary America.

“Our department has never been in a better position to focus on the tremendous challenges presently facing us and the changes law enforcement in our nation is undoubtedly going to experience,” he said. “Our officers deserve consistent and transformational leadership that will result in positive change moving forward.”

Sutter continued, “Change is not new to our department, and our leadership is prepared to continue the type of forward thinking, positive change we have been advocating now for over seven years.  I will work with the department leadership, municipal administration, Mayor Lempert, and members of Council to ensure that this transition is seamless.”