Community partner spotlight: Princeton Police Department

To extend our community outreach, the library partners with many of the municipal, non-profit, and business organizations that make Princeton such an extraordinary town. This month, the Princeton Police Department is in the spotlight.

When working with the PPD, the library usually collaborates with the Safe Neighborhoods Bureau.  We’ve always known that Princeton police officers work hard to keep everyone safe, but we didn’t know that they were also  grillmasters (as we learned when they grilled hot dogs and hamburgers during community picnics) or such wonderful story time readers as we learned during our “Community Helpers” story time with Officer Gering.

This year, the department’s new recruits toured the library to learn the benefits available to library card holders, including opportunities to learn new languages  (Spanish, Mandarin, or French, for instance) which might help them in their work.

Recently, we checked in with Sgt. Frederick R. Williams of the Safe Neighborhoods Bureau to learn more about the Princeton Police Department.

How long has Princeton Police Department been in Princeton?

In 1813, a newly incorporated Princeton Borough established the office of Marshal, which was the predecessor to the position of Chief of Police. In 1838 Princeton became two separate municipalities and the marshal system of law enforcement was used by both towns. The Princeton Borough Police force was established as a “modern day police department in 1886 and the Princeton Township Police went from the watchman/marshal form of policing in 1927 when the Princeton Township Police Department was formed. Our current metamorphosis saw our agency formed on Jan. 1, 2013 as the Princeton Police Department.

What is your primary areas of focus?

Our primary focus is the safety and security of the over 30,000 Princeton residents and the thousands of commuters and visitors who work, do business, and attend schools here as well. Our mission statement explains how we do that:

The Princeton Police Department mission is to protect the lives, property, and rights of all people; maintain an ethical environment of mutual respect, trust and dignity; foster a partnership with the community we serve; and, improve the quality of life for all within the community. Core Values The employees of the Princeton Police Department are committed to its mission. We are accountable for our actions and we conduct ourselves accordingly in pursuit of our core values of: Honor: Always act with the utmost integrity, and be honest and truthful. Enforce the laws equally and without bias. Hold yourself and other members to the highest ethical standards. Integrity: We place the highest value on honesty and an adherence to a strict code of ethics; we will always engage in behavior that is beyond ethical reproach to maintain public confidence. Service: Putting responsibilities before self-interest, performing duties to meet the needs of others, promoting partnerships to identify and solve problems, doing what is right for the community. Knowledge: We seek truth, awareness, and understanding through investigation, education and experience. Princeton police officers shall remain unbiased in the course of their duties. Princeton police officers shall not discriminate against any person based on that person’s race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual preference or sexual orientation.

Why do you like partnering with the library?

We like partnering with the library because it gives the police an opportunity to interact with the public without there being a law enforcement issue at hand. In other words, it’s not an emergency or a traffic ticket, or an arrest, or a personal tragedy that gets us talking. Rather, it’s a casual conversation, a learning experience or an opportunity to discuss issues and answer questions surrounding us and the community we serve as to who we are, what we do, how we do it and why we do it.

With whom do you work most in the community?

Crime victims are likely the largest group of people we work with overall. Which also means our work brings us into contact with the disorderly persons offenders and criminals who commit the infractions and crimes (respectively). After that I’d have to say we work mostly with the schools, businesses, business owners, other municipal departments and other stakeholders in the neighborhoods that make up Princeton.

What is something that you do that people might not know about?

Most people have no idea that police officers want to rid our profession of bad police officers as much as anyone else.  

Is there any project or event that you are particularly excited about at the moment?

The Princeton Bike Rodeo, Princeton Community Night Out, The Princeton Police Youth Academy, The Police Unity Tour, The Mercer County Sunshine Foundation Operation Dreamlift, Pairing drug addicts with recovery specialists, showing our cops at work in the community on social media, vaping presentations, educating the public on issues of situational awareness so they are less prone to be a victim of a crime, community neighborhood events, security enhancements taking place in our public and private schools here in Princeton and the opportunity to do it all with so many caring people.

We have lots of books for young people about police work, you can check them out here!

Photo taken by Sgt. Frederick Williams

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