Web Edition

lead stories
other news



chess forum
town talk


press releases


last week's issue

real estate
classified ads

Chief Lobbies for More Police Officers As Council Nixes Departmental Study

Matthew Hersh

As Princeton Borough Council heard presentations from its Police force last Tuesday night that lobbied for more manpower, a $104,000 study that would have examined Borough Police operations was put on hold, perhaps for good.

But Borough Police Chief Anthony Federico, who was on-hand to deliver a presentation on departmental needs and obligations, said he would support such a study because it would draw attention to a force that, he says, is stretched thin.

"My number one issue is manpower," he said, saying that a study would help Council determine that the police force needs more sworn officers, not fewer, an idea that is being entertained by some members of council.

The chief asked Council to consider filling the two departmental vacancies, bringing the force up to capacity at 34.

At the end of his presentation, however, Chief Federico said the department would be better suited with 37 sworn officers.

"We are a department that runs with no fat: we have no extra people, we use everyone that we have," he said, adding that when the department loses two people, as is the case now due to injury, "it is just truly, truly a problem on the street."

Chief Federico added that the department typically has one or two officers out of commission. "History has shown that 34 officers is really like having 32."

The chief also lobbied for a third lieutenant's position. Since the captain's position was eliminated by council, those duties were distributed between Lt. David Dudeck and Lt. Dennis McManimon. The tabling of the police operations study, which was supported "in principle" with a 4-2 vote on March 1, was two-fold.

For some members of Council, their support was contingent on members of Princeton Township Committee introducing an resolution that endorsed the concept of a consolidated Township-Borough police department. When the members of Committee voted unanimously on March 21 to rejected the Borough's invitation to join in on the study, calling it "premature," hope subsequently faded for a Borough study, one that some Council members thought dipped too deeply into funds that could be spent elsewhere.

Councilman Roger Martindell expressed disappointment with Committee's decision to hold off on a consolidation study, saying that the two towns had not held joint meeting outside of budgetary talks that looked into merging the police forces.

Mr. Martindell said that even when the towns discuss facilities and agency issues during the normal budget cycle, the Borough and Township "don't deal with significant issues that are fundamental to the relationship of the two towns," he said. "I think both of our communities are suffering because of that."

Both the Borough and Township have already approved a joint police dispatch study to be carried out by Virginia-based consultant Carroll Buracker & Associates, but having not yet received results from this study, Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand said that it is too early for the Township to embark on a consolidation study, adding that she would at least want to see the results.

As it turned out, however, even if Borough Council had agreed to move forward with a study, it would have to seek other legal avenues. Council had initially introduced a $1.1 million bond ordinance that contained the $104,000 police department study as a rider component of that ordinance, but Borough Attorney Michael Herbert said that it would have been illegal to bond such a study. As such, Borough Administrator Robert Bruschi recommended to Council that it defers acting on the study.

"Maybe we'll never act on it," he said.

As Borough Council had already approved the bond ordinance – with the monies earmarked for the police study – it will have to cancel the funding from the ordinance at a future session, a suggestion that was supported by all Council members, except for Council President Mildred Trotman and Councilwoman Wendy Benchley, who were absent from the hearing.

go to next story

Website Design by Kiyomi Camp