Princeton Police Captain Nick Sutter was voted to be sworn in as the new chief of police of the department at a town council meeting on Monday.
Sutter has led the department for the past year as acting chief, following the retirement of David Dudeck, and has seen the department through the consolidation of Princeton Township and Princeton Borough.
Sutter will earn a salary of $161,366, with a longevity payment of $6,455, the Princeton Packet reported.
Each of the council members had the chance to speak to Sutter and ask him questions during the course of the meeting. Two council members, Lance Liverman and Patrick Simon, chose not to ask questions, and instead praised Sutter’s performance in leading the department over the last year.
“I have very rarely seen a police department as together as this department is today,” Liverman said.
Councilwoman Heather Howard asked Sutter about his plans for the future of the department, in particular the Safe Neighborhoods Bureau.
“I think that the job that unit has done speaks for itself,” Sutter said, adding that the unit accomplished a lot in the past year and that it “want[s] to build on that momentum going forward.”
Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller asked Sutter how he plans to maintain communication with both the community and with the council.
“Communication is pivotal to the department, internally and externally,” Sutter said. Sutter also said he is happy both with the relationship the department has with the council, and with the University’s Department of Public Safety.
“We’re honest, open and have accomplished a lot in those meetings,” Sutter said, referring to monthly meetings the Princeton Police Department holds with DPS.
Councilwoman Jo Butler asked Sutter how he had changed and plans to continue to change the culture of the police force, particularly with regards to gender equity and acceptable behavior within the force.
Sutter said the department has worked to set expectations and values of honor, integrity and respect.
“Policies are clear, expectations are clear,” Sutter said.
Mayor Liz Lempert said in an interview prior to the meeting that the town council members felt that Sutter was the best candidate for the job because he was the highest ranking officer.
“He came into the position at a difficult time for the department, for many reasons. There had already been a tremendous amount of change, with Consolidation and the bringing together of the two forces, and he’s done a tremendous job,” Lempert said. “The department, under his leadership, has started to build bonds and trust with many of the different groups and neighborhoods within the community, which is so important for people to do their jobs well and for the community to feel like they’re being supported by the police department.”
Butler, who at first expressed reservations about considering only Sutter for the position, said that, at the time, she thought the council should consider lieutenants as well who had previously applied for the position of captain.
“We’ve had a lot of trouble in both the Township and the Borough police departments,” Butler said. “I think our concern is not as much about Captain Sutter as it is … making sure that some of the problems of the past have been addressed and are at least in the process of calming down and going in a different direction.” She noted that they would want to avoid another situation like Dudeck’s retirement amid allegations of harassment.
About 50 members of the police department, nearly the entire department, were in attendance at the meeting.
“Is there going to be a fight for who gets to make the motion?” Lempert asked jokingly.
The motion to appoint Sutter as chief of police was made by Howard and seconded by councilman Bernard Miller. He was voted in unanimously.
Lempert said an official swearing-in ceremony will take place in the next few weeks.
“This is a proud day for the Princeton community,” she said.