PRINCETON BOROUGH POLICE
PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY
HISTORY OF THE
The Princeton area
was settled in the late 1600's as farmers came to the area to cultivate the land
along the Stony Brook Creek and the Millstone River. Eventually a small market
area was established in what is now the central business district in Princeton.
Originally called Stony Brook, the town adopted the name of Princeton in 1724.
In 1775, the
Continental Congress recommended that military companies be formed in the
various townships. Out of this recommendation, the Committee of Safety was
formed, which included two members from Princeton. The Committee of Safety
adopted measures to examine strollers and vagabonds on the public roads who were
stealing horses and robbing. They also took measures to disarm and arrest
extremely violent men.
Princeton was still
a small market town when it applied to the state legislature in 1813 to become
incorporated. The residents of the community saw the need for a more effective
and direct way to handle the problems of keeping law and order. Princeton was
becoming widely known as an educational center with The College of New Jersey
(later known as Princeton University) within the town as well as the Princeton
Seminary, established in 1812.
One problem to deal
with at that time was that Princeton was a town divided, literally. The county
line ran down its main thoroughfare, Nassau Street. Somerset County was to the
north and Middlesex County was to the south. Mercer County was not established
until 1838. Prior to its incorporation, county sheriffs were officially
responsible to maintain law and order. The immediate cause for the townspeople
to petition the legislature seeking a charter, was the necessity for ordinances
having jurisdiction on both sides of Nassau Street and for a grant of police
power to be exercised by a marshal and his deputies.
On February 11,
1813, the state legislature approved the request to have Princeton incorporated.
On June 7,1813, the Mayor and Common Council of Princeton Borough passed an
ordinance that established the duties and compensation of the Marshal of
Princeton. The first power that it gave to the marshal was the power of a
constable, which effectively empowered the marshal to serve warrants on persons
living in town. The duties carried out by the marshal also included carrying out
mandates of the Borough Council. The marshal, at the request of the Mayor, would
have persons remove obstructions from sidewalks and post notices of town
the marshal's duties was that of being the clerk of the market. In 1817, the
office of marshal and clerk of the market were combined. He was paid the salary
of $30.00 per month.
The early years of
marshaling in Princeton were characterized by the marshal performing only
limited law enforcement functions. The marshal was basically a constable serving
warrants and performing services for the Mayor and Council. The Borough did
provide the marshal with some symbol of authority, maybe not a uniform but
probably just a badge.
In 1847, the duties
of the marshal were officially outlined by ordinance. On November 12,1847, the
Mayor and Council ordained that the marshal would be elected by ballot by the
members of the council at its first meeting of the new year. The same process
chose the assistant marshal.
Compensation to the
marshal including salary and fees could not exceed $600.00 per year. The marshal
was now responsible to respond to emergencies, arrest lawbreakers and those
disrupting the peace and protect the persons and property of the citizens of the
Princeton was a
midway point between two of the East's largest cities, New York and
Philadelphia. As a result, the town grew and conditions within the town called
for more police service. Public meetings were called for the purpose of forming
a "society for pursuing and detecting thieves", as well as passing an ordinance
against "those who run fast horses through town".
On May 16,1860, the
Mayor and Council enacted an ordinance that created "Night Police" in Princeton.
This ordinance gave the Mayor the power to select and appoint two competent
persons to act as a "Night Police Force". These officers were under the special
direction of the Mayor who also determined when the men were to be on duty.
Their responsibilities reflected the current problems facing the town at the
time, namely, public drunkenness. They were given the same powers as the marshal
and were paid $ 100.00 per year. They were also assigned to disperse those
assembled upon the sidewalks in the evening who were obstructing passage, to
enforce all ordinances, to protect private and public property and to enforce
the ordinance for suppressing intoxication and drunkenness.
On October 12,1886,
the Princeton Borough Police Department was officially established with the
passage of an ordinance titled "An Ordinance to Establish, Regulate and Control
a Police Force". This ordinance identified the marshal as the Chief of Police
and four policemen as being members of the police department.
The marshal and
policemen had to maintain higher standards than the general public. They were to
refrain from harsh, violent, coarse and profane language, could not drink or be
drunk while on duty, nor were they allowed to enter any place that sold liquor
or attend any balls, dances, etc., where liquor may be served. They were also
required to wear a badge while on duty.
During the period
from the 1890's until around 1910 there seemed to be little change within the
department. Few references could be found in either Council minutes or in the
newspapers concerning the police during that time. The most logical reason for
this was that during this time there was probably not much going on then.
Princeton was still a small town that was growing, and the activities that
required the police mostly involved serving warrants and arresting
beginning in 1910 saw a great deal of growth within the Princeton Borough Police
Department, not only in structure but also in the duties that the police
performed. In 1912, an ordinance was established using military titles for the
members of the force. The marshal was given the title "Police Captain" and the
first assistant marshal was given the title "Lieutenant".
This 1912 ordinance
also stated that the Chief was to be at police headquarters whenever possible to
assign his men and start them promptly when they went on duty. This was the
first reference to a police headquarters that was found. Police headquarters at
the time was presumably in the town market house.
At this time, the
officers were expected to perform duties other than preserving the peace and
arresting violators. In addition to these functions, officers were responsible
for reporting broken streetlights, unsanitary conditions, conditions that were
detrimental to the public health, street and sidewalk obstructions, and also to
see that those creating the obstructions had proper permits.
The first ordinance
dealing with the new mode of transportation, the automobile, came in May of
1913. It restricted the movement of motor vehicles, but the ordinance included
horses and bicycles. At this time in history the only mode of transportation
belonging to the police department were bicycles. This was documented in the
Borough yearly report for 1912 that showed a police department expenditure of
$37.83 for repairs to police department bicycles.
department had not kept up with technology at this point, and chasing criminals
fleeing in autos presented a particular problem. If an officer needed to use an
automobile, he would have to either commandeer a private auto or he would have
to hire a cab. Police expenditures for cab hire were also documented in the 1912
yearly report. In September of 1913, a Princeton Packet newspaper article
reported that Marshal Kilfoil and Assistant Marshal Bovie got into a private car
and went as far as Kingston looking for a holdup man who fled town in an
In August of 1917,
the Borough Council decided to install telephones in the homes of those officers
who did not have them, and the Borough paid for the telephone service for those
who did. When an officer left the force, the Borough had the telephone removed
from their residence.
In March of 1918,
the Borough installed a blinking light system made popular by August
Vollmer. 1918 was well in advance of police radio cars and
walkie-talkies. The police performed basic foot patrol as well as some
bicycle patrol at the time. In order for the foot patrol officer to receive an
assignment, he would have to call police headquarters using the telephone of a
business or resident. This blinking red light system was installed with a police
telephone (call box) at the comer of Nassau Street at Witherspoon Street. When
the red light above the phone was lit, the officer knew to call
Note: The red light system was still used by the police
department into the 1980's!
The 1920's marked
what could be considered an explosive decade for the police department
especially in the area of technology. In February of 1921, police telephone
booths were installed at two locations, Hodge Road at Library Place and Nassau
Street at Murray Place. The installation of these booths allowed an officer to
receive an assignment by going to one of these phone booth instead of trying to
find a residence that had a telephone. Traffic booths were also erected at about
that same time on Nassau Street to protect officers who were directing traffic
from inclement weather.
The location of
police headquarters also changed in the 1920's from the market square to the
rear of "Van Morters Store" (102 Nassau Street). The police rented the rear of
this centrally located store signing a six-year lease.
marked the first time the police department had an official police vehicle with
the purchase of a 1922 Harley Davidson motorcycle. The department had to hire a
motorcycle policeman to operate it. This purchase was necessitated by the
increase in automobile traffic in the town and the use of the motorcycle was
primarily to apprehend speeders on the "new" concrete highway, now known as
Nassau Street. The use of the motorcycle worked so well that the department
purchased another (and hired another cycle policeman) on November 11,1922.
the motorcycles were, there was still a need for an automobile. The motorcycles
were not used by everybody, and in fact, went home with the motorcycle officers
at the end of their shifts. The department was accustomed to commandeering
private vehicles to use in pursuing fleeing criminals. However, an on August
25,1923, prompted the Borough Council to purchase an auto. On that date, Chief
Charles Meyers had hailed another person's car in order to answer a call. On the
way back into town, the car in which Meyers was riding, became involved in an
accident, leaving Meyers injured. It took several minutes before an available
car could be found to take Meyers to the hospital. It was estimated that the
police responded to at least fifteen calls a month and that in these cases a
taxi had to be located. A Princeton Packet article written about the purchase of
a police vehicle noted that "after taxi charges are added up, the amount would
have gone a long way toward the cost of a police ambulance." Not long after this
incident, a "police patrol ambulance" was purchased. This vehicle was a two door
In 1927, the salary
for Chief of Police was $2,500.00. A regular patrolman with at least four years
on the department earned $2,200.00. In addition to salary, a clothing allowance
was paid to the officers.
In 1935, Officer
Edward Mahan was appointed chief. One of the first things that Mahan did was to
hire William Roddy, a retired NYPD Lieutenant to train the department in the
proper performance of their duties. This training given by Lieutenant Roddy was
the first documented training of any kind in the department up to that time.
Former Police Chief
Peter McCrohan exemplified the attitudes of those attempting to get on the force
in the 1930's. Chief McCrohan was one of the candidates who took the police exam
in 1935. He said that being a policeman in Princeton at that time was considered
a good job because there were few jobs to be had at the time. People looked
positively at the job security aspect of police work especially during that time
because of the depression. The depression did take its toll on the Princeton
police officer. Salaries dropped from $1,800 in 1927 to $1,200 in
The "radio patrol
car" made it's first appearance in Princeton in 1936. Princeton was the
second police department in Mercer County to utilize the radio patrol car. When
it was first put into use, it was met with much skepticism by the townspeople.
In fact, a publicity campaign was run by the Borough to answer some of the
questions and misconceptions that the residents had about the use of the radio
patrol car. To clear up the public misconceptions a booklet was distributed to
the citizens explaining the purpose of the police radio patrol and that the
police were not able to pick up "Amos and Andy" broadcasts with it.
Although the 20's
and 30's were explosive in the growth of the police department, the decade of
the 1940's was tame in comparison. World War II was going on and there seemed to
be little emphasis on the police department at the time. There were only two
significant advances made in technology other than the police headquarters being
moved into "Old Borough hall" on Stockton Street. In 1946 new radio equipment
was installed at police headquarters and in 1947 a Teletype system was
officers patrolled on foot in the 1940's and the police were responsible for
performing many functions. Some of the services that the police provided
included checking on building and street permits, health code violations, street
lights out, movie theater inspections, conducting the dog census, vacant house
inspections, taxi inspections, providing temporary shelter for vagrants
(lodgers), school crossings and church crossings.
World War II had a
serious impact on the police department. Several of the police officers left the
ranks to serve in the military. The loss of several men on a small department
such as Princeton's created a serious strain on the remaining members of the
force. The remaining members in fact petitioned the Borough Council on September
15,1942 stating that they would assume extra duty to replace the men in the
service. As compensation for their increased work hours, the police officers
received "bonuses" of $25 per month. Even with the regular policemen working
longer tours to provide the town with coverage, it still was not enough and a
"Police Auxiliary" was formed. The members of the Auxiliary supplied personnel
to the force as needed.
This was reflected in the Council
minutes on October 6,1942 where the Police Committee reported that the Police
Reserves supplied a man to maintain the 5:00 p.m. -1:00 a.m. tour.
By the 1950's the
police department had grown to twenty-one officers with the organizational
structure consisting of one chief; one lieutenant, four sergeants, fourteen
patrolmen and one chanceman. The department had two or three radio patrol cars
and one motorcycle in service during the decade. Among the advances in
technology that the department had taken advantage of was a "drunko-meter" and
an "electric speed meter", (one of the first departments in the state to use
it). Crime was not much of a factor in Princeton in the 50's, and of greatest
concern to the police department during that time was traffic, occasional
burglary sprees and loitering. An example of the activities the department
devoted much of its time is recorded in the 1953 and 1955 Annual Reports. In
those reports, the department cited 10,432 traffic violations in 1953 and in
1,873 in 1955. Also recorded were 3,386 hours spent on traffic duty in 1953
compared to 3,670 hours in 1955. Obviously, traffic related matters and
providing service were primary functions of the department during the
The 1960's were a
period of social unrest in the United States and Princeton had its problems as
well. Student riots in the mid-60's and the SDS (Students for a Democratic
Society) Vietnam War demonstrations in the late 60's and early 70's required
considerable attention from the police force. The patrol officers as well as the
staff personnel of the department were pushed to their limits physically as well
In 1964, the
ordinance concerning police recruit qualifications still required only a grammar
school education. Although by 1969 all of the officers on the force had high
school diplomas (or equivalency), none had college degrees. The term "chanceman"
was no longer used after the 1960's being replaced by the term "probationary
improvements made in the early 1960's was the acquisition of walkie-talkie
units. The department grew in strength in terms of personnel from twenty-six
officers in 1961 to twenty-seven officers in 1969. Also in 1967, the physical
location of police headquarters was moved from old Borough Hall on Stockton
Street to the new Borough Hall across the street, where the department is housed
In 1972 there was a
change in leadership in the department. In that year, Lieutenant Michael
Carnevale was appointed Chief of Police replacing Chief Peter McCrohan, who
retired after serving thirty-seven years on the force and eleven years as the
important changes taking place within the police department. Efforts were made
to improve the professional image of the department. Rules and Regulations
manuals were delivered. New Rules and Regulations were established and each
officer was issued a manual containing the Rules and Regulations.
This manual was about twelve years in the workings, with initial efforts on the
project beginning in 1961. The new manual drew from a rules and regulations
directive that was instituted in 1955 for the department by the International
Police Chiefs Association.
In the 70's, we
also saw the appearance of recruits having some college background and also a
few with college degrees. Residency requirements changed in the 70's going from
eight miles from police headquarters to ten miles and then to no residency
requirement by the decade's end.
By the 80's many of
the recruits coming on to the department had four year college degrees, most
with degrees in criminal justice. One of the reasons for the influx of college
recruits was the attractive salary being paid by the department. In the
mid-80's, the starting pay for patrol officers was in the mid $20,000.
1975 saw the
entrance of one of New Jersey's first female police officers, Monica Sheehan.
This officer subsequently left the force in 1980. Currently there are five
female officers on the Princeton force.
The 70's and 80's
saw modest specialization and technological advances on the department.
Specialization was evident with the formation of the Arson Squad (1972);
Crime Prevention Unit (1978); and the Traffic Safety Unit (1978).
structure of the department changed in 1974 with the creation of the position of
"captain" in addition to the chief, lieutenant, five sergeants and approximately
twenty-two patrol officers.
In 1989, the department, through a private
donation, installed a computerized police records and computer aided dispatch
In 1991, Chief
Michael F. Carnevale retired after nineteen years as police chief. Chief
Carnevale is credited with advancing professionalism within the department.
On January 17,1991,
Captain Thomas B. Michaud was appointed acting chief. His appointment was made
permanent on Chief Carnevale's official retirement date of May l,1991. Chief
Michaud came up through the ranks, as did all of his predecessors.
During the early
1990's, the department began to move in the direction of community policing.
Officers received training in community policing, cultural diversity, and
community relations. In 1994, the department installed a mobile data terminal
system in all of it's marked patrol cars.
retired in July 2001, being succeeded by Chief Charles W. Davall, Jr.
Chief Davall, a firm believer in the concepts of community policing, continued
to move the department in that direction, while also working to advance the
In January 2005, Chief
Davall retired after 25 years of dedicated service. He was quickly
replaced by Anthony V. Federico, a Princeton native, who has spent a productive
25 years with the police department.
In July of 2006, the
department took delivery of a Harley Davidson motorcycle. There hasn't
been a motorcycle patrol in Princeton Borough since the 1960's, but thanks for
forfeiture funds from the Mercer County Prosecutors Office, Princeton can hear
the rumbling sounds and see the iconic mounted motorcycle patrol once
again. Officers William Perez (badge 119) and Merv Arana (badge 126) were
both trained by the Philadelphia Highway Patrol, and it has gone into the
regular patrol vehicle rotation.
In January of 2007, the
Princeton Borough Police Department promoted Sergeant Sharon Papp from Patrol
Sergeant to Lieutenant, making her the first female Lieutenant in the history of
the department. Prior to being promoted as the first female Lieutenant,
she was the first female Sergeant in the departments history when she was
promoted to Sergeant in September of 2003. Prior to working for the
department, Lt. Papp worked for the Mercer County Prosecutors Office and Mercer
County Sheriffs Department as a Sheriff's Officer. Lt. Papp graduated from
Seton Hall University with a Masters degree.
In 2010, the Town Council
reduced the size of the department from thirty-four down to thirty. This
was due mainly to the recession, as well as the fact that several officers had
recently left the department over a two year period. Also in 2010, the
Town Council reinstated the position of Captain. This position had been
eliminated several years prior. With the newly created position, Nick
Sutter was promoted from Lieutenant to Captain on June 1st,
PRINCETON BOROUGH POLICE
Borough incorporated, with an ordinance establishing
the duties of the
1817 - Marshal
1817 - Marshal
1818 - Marshal
1818 - Marshal
1819 - Marshal
1820 - Marshal
1821 - Marshal
1831 - Marshal
1837 - Marshal
1871 - Marshal
1871 - Marshal A.
1875 - Marshal S.
1877 - Marshal I.
1880 - Marshal
1886 - Princeton Borough Police Department established
1889 - Marshal
1889 - Marshal
1892 - Marshal Eb
1892 - Marshal W.A.
1893 - Marshal W.
R. B. Tyrell
(Chief) William Kilfoil
1922 - Chief
William Rodweller (died while in office)
John H. Smith
Thomas B. Michaud
2001-2005 Chief Charles
W. Davall, Jr.
2006-2009 Chief Anthony