July 20, 2016

Local Police Respond to Tense Climate 

Three police officers were killed and three others wounded last Sunday morning in an ambush in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Ten days earlier, five officers had been shot dead and 12 injured during an otherwise peaceful protest in Dallas, Texas.

Twenty-eight officers have died from gunshots this year, as opposed to 18 at this point last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

In every police department С urban, rural or suburban С tensions are running high and vigilance has become a top priority. Princeton is no exception.

“Currently the threats are many and widespread. Officers are being targeted, ambushed and slaughtered nationwide, and I am extremely concerned about this,” stated Princeton Police Chief Nick Sutter.

According to Mr. Sutter, he has ordered all patrol units to include not one but two officers, and the Princeton Police Department (PPD) is “monitoring intelligence reports very carefully. Until those reports show a decrease in the threats against law enforcement officers, we will take these and other heightened precautions to protect our officers.”

Taking a pro-active approach to the challenges of the current crisis, Mr. Sutter said that the Princeton police will be increasing their “positive footprint in the community.”

He explained, “More than ever our community needs to see our officers as the well intended, everyday men and women they are. These are daughters, sons, husbands, wives, sisters, and brothers that have the same concerns that every other American has right now. The only way for our community to see this for themselves is to encounter our officers in a positive way on an individual basis.”

The officers of the PPD will be more present throughout town, according to Mr. Sutter, as they seek to increase visibility and positive encounters. “When our community gets to know our officers on a first-name basis, trust in the department and the legitimacy of our mission will be more likely earned,” he pointed out. “This type of relationship-building is exactly what our police departments need right now.”

Mr. Sutter added that the police will also be “engaging in meetings and other  community forums where we openly discuss these issues.”

A community event, “Humanizing Our Responses to the Recent National Tragedies,” is scheduled for next Wednesday, July 27 in the John Witherspoon Middle School auditorium. Mr. Sutter will join Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, Rabbi Adam Feldman of the Jewish Center, and Rev. Matthew Ristuccia of Stone Hill Church at the gathering “to process our reactions to the deep fissures” exposed by the tragedies of recent police shootings of African American men and sniper attacks on police.

The event will include the sharing of personal perspectives by a representative of the African American community and a representative of the law enforcement community. This “evening of grieving together” seeks to build bridges and take “positive steps toward real reconciliation and growth in our community and our nation,” as announced in the press release for the event.