March 21, 2012

Dudeck Urges No Police Cutbacks: Princeton Deserves “High-End Service”

Princeton’s two police departments are anxious to hold on to the current staffing level of 57 officers once consolidation takes effect. Addressing the Transition Task Force Saturday, March 17, Borough Police Chief David Dudeck and Township Police Lieutenant Chris Morgan urged the Task Force not to recommend that the number be reduced to 51, which is what the Joint Shared Services and Consolidation Commission proposed in its final report.

“I would urge you not to cut back on services,” said Chief Dudeck. “If there’s one area that would concern me the most, it would be the delivery of service. I hope that as we go through consolidation that our delivery of service is not impacted. The citizens of Princeton deserve high-end service.”

Both Chief Dudeck and Lieutenant Morgan expressed interest in discussing with the Task Force’s public safety subcommittee what an ideal number of officers might be. In its report, the Consolidation Commission recommended reaching the level of 51 officers through attrition, over three years. Those reductions would be from middle and upper management, not the patrol divisions.

The Borough currently has 30 sworn officers, while the Township has 27. Chief Dudeck said the two departments have been meeting regularly since the consolidation was passed last November, discussing everything from uniforms to personnel. He likened the blending of the two departments to “putting the Yankees and the Red Sox together and making them one team.

“We need your support to keep morale high, so that when we do form this new team, it will something you can be proud of,” he concluded, adding that the patrol division, “the backbone of the police department,” needs to remain fully staffed at all times.

Lieutenant Morgan noted that while the Township police has a traffic bureau, the Borough does not. With regard to the future, he said, “Our concern is for our residents. Depending on what manpower looks like, is it going to be deployed to downtown and are we going to lose police presence in the outskirts of the new Princeton?”

Mark Freda, who chairs the Transition Task Force, commented that negotiations about public safety should not be limited to financial concerns. “It’s not just about saving money,” he said. “There are services that need to be delivered. The public safety subcommittee will try to draw the best balance they can between services and cost savings, and come back with a recommendation to the Task Force.”

The Transition Task Force will meet tonight, March 21, at 7 p.m. in Borough Hall. The next meeting of the public safety subcommittee is Friday, March 23, at 8:30 a.m. in the Township building.