QUESTIONS REGARDING POLICING IN PRINCETON
Princeton Strong news – Princeton, NJ: Princeton New Jersey Government reports July 15, 2020. The current Princeton Police Department (PPD) was created in 2013 when the former Princeton Borough and the former Princeton Township consolidated. The new department embraced a guardian rather than warrior mentality as reflected in President Barack Obama’s 21st Century Policing philosophy. The PPD has proactively sought to model responsive, community-oriented policing and has, since its inception, strived to be diverse, transparent, data-driven, and bias-free. The very issues currently at the forefront of the calls for policing reform in the United States have been core to the department’s reshaping of its role in recent years. In response to inquiries from residents, municipal officials have compiled this FAQ page to address key areas of concern.
LIST OF QUESTIONS
• How much is allocated for policing versus other parts of the budget?
• What does the PPD do to prevent racially biased policing?
• What is PPD’s Use of Force policy?
• Have there been any officer-involved shootings in Princeton since the
• What is PPD’s Pursuit and Forcible Stopping policy?
• Do different neighborhoods have a higher police presence? If so,
• How do police decide to include race/nationality information in
describing a suspect?
• Does Princeton utilize a Mobile Crisis Intervention Team?
• Does PPD have procedures in place to proactively identify
problematic officer conduct?
• What accountability processes are in place to handle officer conduct?
• Does the PPD require its officers to wear Body Worn Cameras
• What is accreditation and why is it important?
• Does PPD have a whistleblower policy?
• What training do Princeton Police Officers receive?
o See: Appendix A: The #8CantWait initiative
o Appendix B: List of Mandatory Training and Continuing
• Does PPD reflect the diversity of the Princeton community?
• What efforts are being made to increase diversity in the PPD’s
How much is allocated for policing versus other parts of the budget?
Princeton allocated $7.8 million of its budget for policing in 2020 (down 3-
1/2% from $8.1 million in 2019.) This spending on police represents
approximately 13% of the town’s $61 million total operating budget.
Princeton allocated $6.8 million of its budget for health, recreation and
social services or approximately 10% of its operating budget (up 2% from
2019.) The Princeton Public Schools operating budget is separate and
totaled $95.6 million for the 2020-21 school year.
What does the PPD do to prevent racially biased policing?
In 2016 the PPD proactively addressed issues concerning race and police
actions by contracting with the Rutgers Policing Institute for an in-depth
study of the department’s data with regard to motor vehicle stops and
race. This study examined the demographics of the PPD’s motor vehicle
stops by comparing daytime stops (when race/ethnicity of the driver is likely
observed by the police officer) with nighttime stops (when race/ethnicity of
the driver is NOT likely observed by the police officer) and found them to be
virtually identical (African Americans accounted for 14.8% of daytime stops
and 16.6% of nighttime stops). Additionally, the most recent data collected
(Jan 2019-March 2020) found that African American motorists are stopped
roughly in proportion (13.25%-17.65% of stops) to their percentage in the
population of drivers traveling through Princeton.
The PPD continues to monitor trends in its actions using the same
procedures as were employed in the Rutgers study. An internal Risk
Assessment Committee looks for trends of bias in individual officers’
actions and within the department as a whole. This includes analyzing use
of force, arrests, motor vehicle stops (including stops vs. summons
issued), marijuana arrests, trespassing, and pedestrian stops.
Princeton has had a very small number of probable cause searches and
marijuana arrests in each of the last three years. The very small size of
these data sets means that it is difficult to draw hard and fast conclusions.
Still, an examination of this demographic data does reveal racial
disparities. Moreover, total arrests over the last three years provide a larger
data set and also show racial discrepancies.
Previously, in attempting to understand these discrepancies, the focus has
been on individual officers’ actions. More recently, the effort has expanded
to also include reviewing and reforming policies that perpetuate systemic
racial bias. Most searches and arrests are the result of non-discretionary
actions by officers dictated by NJ state law. For example, the majority of
arrests in Princeton are due to outstanding warrants. Police officers do not
have discretion in making these warrant arrests, even if the warrant is for a
minor infraction. In 2019, this process was reformed and now officers do
not need to arrest people who have warrants totaling less than $500.
Similarly, the vast majority of probable cause searches are initiated in the
course of a motor vehicle stop where marijuana is detected. Officers are
required to search if they detect marijuana. This action is not discretionary.
With marijuana legalization and decriminalization on the horizon, marijuana
arrests and related probable cause searches are expected to drop
The PPD continues to carefully track and review the data it collects,
including demographics of probable cause searches, marijuana arrests,
and use of force incidents. These are presented publicly to the governing
body on a regular basis and then placed on the municipal website under
police reports. The data will be used to develop and evaluate future policy
What is PPD’s Use of Force policy?
PPD’s use of force policy states that force should be used only when all
other reasonable means are exhausted, that the utmost restraint should be
exercised when force is used, and that, if force is used, the degree of force
should only be what is reasonably necessary. Use of force, the guidelines
state, should never be routine. Law enforcement officers are also charged
with the responsibility to take all steps possible to prevent or stop
inappropriate or illegal use of force by other officers. Officers are further
mandated to evaluate and respond to an individual’s medical needs
immediately after a use of force. All uses of force require reporting by the
officer and any other department witnesses.
In 2019, there were a total of five “use of force” incidents, involving 9
officers. (It’s important to note that each police officer involved in a “use of
force” encounter counts as a separate use of force.) No weapons or
mechanical use of force was involved; there was one use of pepper spray
and the rest of the incidents involved physical force only. The demographic
breakdown of the individuals involved in these 2019 use of force incidents
is as follows: two incidents involved White individuals, one involved an
Asian individual, one involved a Hispanic individual, and one involved an
African American Hispanic individual. In 2018, there were 12 incidents of
“use of force” involving 22 officers; only physical force was involved. The
demographic breakdown of the individuals involved in these 2018 use of
force incidents is as follows: four incidents involved White individuals, 6
involved Hispanic individuals, and 11 involved African Americans (two
juveniles in mental health crisis account for all 11 of these use of force
incidents). In most of these incidents, the force used was only what was
necessary to restrain an individual’s hands in order to transport them to the
For several years the PPD has used a five tier process for reviewing use of
1) Immediate supervisor reviews all use of force incidents regardless of
how minimal the force used was.
2) Lieutenant/Patrol Bureau Commander reviews every use of force
3) Internal Affairs then reviews each use of force.
4) Chief of Police reviews use of force reports
5) All uses of force that result in serious bodily injury or death are
reviewed both internally and by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s
Office and /or NJ Attorney General’s Office
When this process uncovers inappropriate conduct by an officer, an
investigation is initiated and forwarded to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s
Office and/or the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.
There was one allegation of excessive use of force in 2018 and none in
2017 or 2019. The investigation of the 2018 incident exonerated the officer.
More info: Use of Force Policy- https://bit.ly/2XzWUYr
Have there been any officer-involved shootings in Princeton since the
There was one incident at Panera Bread on Nassau Street in March 2018
where there was deadly use of force. A 56-year old White male was shot by
two state troopers after a four-hour standoff. The incident was reviewed by
the NJ Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team and the use of deadly
was determined to be justified under the law.
What is PPD’s Pursuit and Forcible Stopping policy?
Pursuit of a fleeing vehicle is only authorized in case of a serious infraction.
For example, an officer would be justified in pursuing an individual involved
in a fatal hit and run but not an individual who was speeding or who ran a
red light. Merely fleeing a police officer is not an excuse for a motor vehicle
pursuit unless the fleeing suspect is endangering others. The pursuit policy
further states that no officer shall be criticized or disciplined for a decision
not to engage in a vehicle pursuit or for terminating such a pursuit if the
officer believes that the public might be endangered.
More info: Pursuit and Forcible Stopping- https://bit.ly/30aXKwv
Do different neighborhoods have a higher police presence? If so,
Princeton’s Central Business District (Nassau Street to Wiggins between
Bayard and Moore Street) sees the most police activity in terms of calls and
patrol presence. Data so far indicates that police activity in neighborhoods
reflects their proximity to the central business district. The PPD hopes to do
a deeper dive on this data to check these preliminary findings.
How do police decide to include race/nationality information in
describing a suspect?
Suspect descriptions, including any details about race or possible
nationality, are written based on information provided by victims. Typically
suspect descriptions use verbatim language from victim’s reports.
Does Princeton utilize a Mobile Crisis Intervention Team?
Yes, it is the policy of the PPD to arrange for a response by a trained drug
addiction counselor/recovery coach whenever there is an arrest for
possession of an opiate/opioid and/or an opiate-related crime.
Does the PPD have procedures in place to proactively identify
problematic officer conduct?
For several years the PPD has used an early warning system to detect
patterns of officer behavior before such conduct might escalate into a more
serious problem. The early warning system, which applies to an officer’s
conduct both on and off the job, tracks whether an officer is stopping or
issuing tickets disproportionately to certain racial or ethnic groups. It also
monitors citizen complaints, feedback from fellow officers, as well as
behavior such as DUI or domestic violence reports. This early warning
system allows the department to intervene and take corrective action or
discipline as appropriate. To this point, no indications of misconduct have
been triggered. The system has, however, indicated areas where officer
retraining may be needed and such retraining has been provided.
More information: Early Warning System- https://bit.ly/2YbwprI
What accountability processes are in place to handle officer conduct?
The Attorney General sets the standards for police conduct throughout
New Jersey through the Use of Force Guidelines, Internal Affairs process,
Officer Involved Shootings, in-custody deaths, training requirements from
the Police Training Commission and the Attorney General’s Community
Law Enforcement Affirmative Relations Continuing Education Institute.
In the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd, Attorney General Grewal
announced the following reforms:
• Requiring Police Officers to be Licensed: New Jersey is one of the
few states that does not have police officer licensing. In New Jersey,
officers are currently “certified.” The impact of licensing is that a
license can be revoked if the officer is found guilty of misconduct and
then that individual can no longer serve as a police officer anywhere
in the state.
• Use of Force Portal, which will go live in July 2020, will allow the
Attorney General to better gather and analyze uniform use of force
data from all law enforcement in New Jersey.
• Updating the Use of Force Policy: the last update to the Policy was in
- The Attorney General will take a hard look at all use-of-force
practices in New Jersey and make any necessary adjustments and
• Attorney General Grewal is establishing, within the Division on Civil
Rights, an Incident Response Team similar to the one created by
President Obama and implemented by former US Attorney General
Eric Holder. The Team will respond to the community in the event of
a civil rights incident. The members of the Team will be trained
community relations specialists who can help strengthen the ties
between the community and law enforcement.
• The Attorney General’s website has information on his “Excellence in
Policing” reforms which will shed more light on police oversight in
New Jersey. https://www.nj.gov/oag/excellence/
• Finally, unlike in many other states, the New Jersey Attorney General
is statutorily required to investigate and present to a grand jury any
incident of an in-custody death and/or officer involved shooting
resulting in death. The Attorney General acts as an independent
prosecutor in these matters.
Although Mercer County has very few use of force incidents, the Mercer
County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) has not hesitated to prosecute officers
for misconduct or excessive use of force. In the event of a non-fatal police
involved shooting or an excessive force allegation, MCPO is required to
investigate and have the investigation approved by the Attorney
General. Use of force data can be found on the PPD’s website as well as
the MCPO website.
Does PPD require its officers to wear Body Worn Cameras (BWC)?
The PPD is in the process of implementing a body worn camera system.
The Princeton Council authorized funding for the purchase at its June 22
meeting. The system is expected to be in operation this August 2020.
What is accreditation and why is it important?
The PPD has received accreditation from the State of New Jersey three
times since 2013, most recently in March of 2020. This certifies that the
Princeton Police Department maintains policies and professional practices
that reflect state and national best practices in the areas of policy,
oversight, and training.
Accreditation involves both comprehensive planning and policy review as
well as a thorough review of the department’s day-to-day operations to
evaluate compliance with the implementation of its policies. The process
includes on-sight inspections, extensive interviews, and feedback from the
public. Each accreditation process also includes identifying future goals
and opportunities for the department to address in the following three years
to prepare for future challenges.
Does PPD have a whistleblower policy?
Yes, PPD has a workplace harassment policy that covers the
Conscientious Employer Protection Act (CEPA, Whistleblower Protection)
and that policy protects all actions under CEPA.
What training do Princeton Police Officers receive?
The PPD has a rigorous training program that included 90 different areas of study in 2019. (See list at the end of this document.) Use of force and de-
escalation trainings are conducted repeatedly throughout the
year. Additionally, the department utilizes a multitude of training curricula
in the areas of bias based policing, cultural awareness and implicit
bias. These curricula are regularly updated and monitored for
effectiveness. These trainings include the state of New Jersey’s annual
“CLEAR” training (Community Law Enforcement Affirmative Relations).
CLEAR training includes:
• Cultural Diversity Training
• De-Escalation Techniques and Strategies
• Dealing with Individuals in Mental Health Crisis
Attorney General Grewal has announced that each of these training
modules will be enhanced to make them more robust and meaningful. In
particular, crisis intervention training for police officers will be
expanded. This training is one of the most effective ways to reduce police
use-of-force incidents and will help officers to respond to situations
involving emotionally disturbed individuals. The Princeton Police
Department supplements these trainings with additional curricula.
See also: Appendix A: The #8CantWait initiative
Appendix B: List of Mandatory Training and Continuing
Does the PPD reflect the diversity of the Princeton community?
The PPD generally reflects the diversity of the Princeton community. Of the
56 sworn officers now on the force, four are Black, including the first Black
woman officer in the department’s history. Additionally, eight officers speak
Spanish and one officer speaks Mandarin.
When hiring, significant effort is made to recruit a diverse group of
candidates. Princeton has had three recruitments since 2013, with around
800 initial applicants each time. The PPD does not require candidates to
have completed police academy training in order to be considered. This
allows the department to choose from a wider, more diverse pool of
candidates. The municipality then pays for the academy courses of officers
who have not yet completed this training.
What efforts are being made to increase diversity in the PPD’s
Promotions are made from within the department. Recruiting a diverse
group of officers is the first step toward creating a diverse pool of
candidates who can then eventually rise through the ranks. The efforts of
the consolidated department to recruit and hire a diverse group of officers
over the past several years has laid the groundwork for a diverse command
The #8CantWait initiative
This initiative to reduce police use of force opens up an important dialogue
in our nation. Please see how the Princeton Police Department currently
addresses each of the points:
- Ban Chokeholds and Strangle Holds.
• “Chokeholds” are not taught in any New Jersey Police Academy (in
fact the Academies teach the dangers of this tactic). On June 5,
Attorney General Grewal issued guidance to all law enforcement
agencies to restate New Jersey’s commitment to ensuring that our
criminal justice system “is fair, just and free of bias…[and]noting our
solemn responsibility as law enforcement officers and reiterating our
shared commitment to a culture of professionalism, accountability
and transparency.” The Attorney General affirmed that “law
enforcement officers are not permitted to perform chokeholds, carotid
artery neck restraints or similar tactics…except in very limited
situations when deadly force is necessary to address the imminent
threat to life.” Further, the Attorney General warned of “positional
asphyxiation” (which has long been addressed at the Academies)
including by kneeling or otherwise placing weight on a subject’s neck.
- Require De-Escalation.
• De-Escalation training is mandatory for all Princeton police officers.
- Require Warning Before Shooting.
• Princeton Police Officers are trained to provide verbal warning prior to
the application of any force whenever practical. The overarching
principle is to provide the opportunity for a situation to de-escalate.
- Exhaust All Alternatives Before Shooting.
• Princeton trains its officers to utilize appropriate, reasonable levels of
force. Officers are trained to understand their options within the
context of a volatile situation and appropriately apply only the level of
force reasonably necessary to safely bring resolution.
- Duty To Intervene.
• Princeton Police Officers are trained and required by policy to
intercede if they observe another officer using force that is clearly
beyond that which is objectively reasonable or permitted by law. PPD
policy requires officers to report such incidents to a supervisor.
- Ban Shooting At Moving Vehicles.
• Princeton’s policy recognizes that while any discharge of a firearm
entails some risk, discharging a firearm at or from a moving vehicle
entails an even greater risk of death or serious injury to innocent
persons. The safety of innocent people is jeopardized when a fleeing
suspect is disabled and loses control of their vehicle. There is also a
substantial risk of harm to occupants of the suspect vehicle who may
not be involved, or involved to a lesser extent, in the actions that
necessitated the use of deadly force. Due to this greater risk, and
considering that firearms are not generally effective in bringing
moving vehicles to a rapid halt, officers are prohibited from firing from
a moving vehicle or at the driver or occupant of a moving vehicle
unless they reasonably believe there exists an imminent danger of
death or serious bodily harm to themselves or another person; and no
other means are available at that time to avert or eliminate the
danger. Officers are prohibited from firing a weapon solely to disable
- Establish a Use of Force Continuum.
• The concept of a Use of Force Continuum is no longer considered an
industry “best practice” and so the PPD departed from its use over a
decade ago. This is primarily because a Use of Force Continuum is
linear, while most Use of Force encounters are not. Locking officers
into a continuum with a step-by-step protocol to address a use of
force situation often leads to more applications of force, as the officer
walks down a prescribed path, trying different levels of force before
arriving at one that overcomes the person’s ability to resist. A better
practice involves assessing the suspect’s level of resistance and
elevating one step higher to overcome it, and resolve the
conflict. This leads to fewer applications of force and results in fewer
injuries to offenders and our officers. PPD’s Our current use of force
training conforms to the standard established by the U.S. Supreme
Court in the Graham v Connor case.
- Require All Force Be Reported.
• Officers are required to provide a statement or written report for any
use of force incident in which they are involved. Uses of Force are
reviewed by supervisory and Command level staff to ensure that it is
in line with training, policy and best practices. In addition, all use of
force incidents are reported publicly to Council.
Mandatory Training and Continuing Education
Princeton Police Training Summary 2019 Courses
As a New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP) accredited law
enforcement agency there is a training schedule that is mandated for accreditation
based on best-practices in law enforcement. The Princeton Police Department adheres to the schedule and mandates some training blocks with increased frequency.
Active Shooter Response
CPR/Blood-Bourne Pathogen/First Aid
Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS)
Hazardous Materials Awareness
Field Training Officer Training Update/Review
Handling and Helping the Mentally Ill
Racially Influenced Policing/Implicit Bias Training
Active Shooter Training
Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) Training
Prison Rape Elimination Act
Detention Facility Management
In addition to the above listed required training, the NJ Attorney General’s office has
mandated all sworn police officers in the state of New Jersey attend annual “CLEAR”
training (Community Law Enforcement Affirmative Relations). The CLEAR training will
consist of NJ Attorney General’s Office approved training blocks of instruction to
include: Cultural Diversity, De-Escalation Techniques and Strategies, Dealing with
Individuals in Mental Health Crisis, and similar continuing education topics.
The training requirement for the third year of the program (2019) consisted of a four-
hour block video- based instruction on Sexual Assault Investigations. The Princeton Police Department had 1 officer who attended a Train-the-Trainer program and was available as a resource to our sworn personnel. The goal of the Attorney General’s Office is to create a library of approved topics/materials for use by law enforcement agencies for the annual CLEAR training.
Continuing Education/Professional Development Classes Attended by Princeton
Youth Bias Forum
Mercer County Rapid Response Partnership Training (monthly critical incident response
NJ Bias Crime Investigations Training
NJ Human Relations Council: Responding to Bias Incidents Seminar
NJ Division of Criminal Justice Patrol Rifle Instructor Certification Training
NJ Division of Criminal Justice Radar Instructor Re-Certification Training
NJ Title 39 (motor vehicle law) Update Class
Resiliency Summit (training for Resiliency Officer-NJ Attorney General mandated
NJ Drug Recognition Expert Update Training
Sex-Trafficking: A Survivor’s Story-Tactics Employed and Lessons Learned
Road-Wise Train-the-Trainer Course (Officer Safety Program to be implemented in
Mass & Spree Killings: Exploring the Correlation between Domestic Violence & Gender
in Mass Killing Sprees
Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO) Training
POAC Autism Shield First Responder Training Program
Police Training Commission Methods of Instruction Course E-TRO Refresher Training
Overcoming the Complexities of Sexual Assault Investigations
NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety Advanced Crash Investigations
Identifying Criminal/Drug Indicators During Motor Vehicle Stops & Search and Seizure
Update New Jersey State Police ARIDE (Drug-impaired driving detection) Course
American Heart Association CPR Instructor Re-Certification Training
Computer Crimes Investigations
Domestic Violence and the Use of Technology
Introduction to Cell Phone Investigations & Interpretation and Mapping of Records
Advanced Homicide Investigator’s Conference
Coaching the Emergency Vehicle Operator Training (Mid-JIF training)
NJSP Alcotest Operator Certification
NJSP Alcotest Recertification Training
NJSP Media Relations Training
DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Course
DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Refresher Course
NJ Child Passenger Safety Technician Certification Training
California Highway Patrol Motorcycle Enforcement Training Program
Krav Maga: “Successful Control of a Passive Resistor”
Krav Maga: “Facing Larger, Non-Compliant/Combative Persons”
Verbal De-Escalation and Crisis Communications Training
FBI Crisis Negotiation for Patrol Officers
FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness Field Force Operations Course
FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness Field Force Command & Planning for
Executives Street Cop Training: Becoming the Title 39 Expert
J. Harris Arrest, Search & Seizure Update
J. Harris Training Search & Seizure for Proactive Policing
ESPOS Arrest, Search & Seizure 2019 Update Training
Transitioning to Supervision: 3-day Supervisor Development Training Course
Front Line Leadership Course
Sovereign Citizens and Militia Extremists
CLEAR Train-the-Trainer Sexual Assault Investigations Training
Trauma Informed Domestic and Sexual Violence Investigative Techniques
Identifying, Investigating and Prosecuting Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
Strangulation Cases NJ Division of Criminal Justice: Methods of Instruction (Instructor
development/certification training) REID Method of Interview and Interrogation
Counterterrorism Awareness & Understanding the Islamic Culture
NJ Police Training Commission Humane Law Enforcement Officer Waiver Training
NJ Police Training Commission: Physical Fitness Instructor Certification Training
Tactical Patrol Rifle Training Course
Capital Health Mobile Crisis Outreach Training
Water Rescue Awareness Training
Training Taken by Civilian Staff
NJSP Administered Uniform Crime Reporting and NIBRS Program Update NJSP-
Administered Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) training
OPRA for Practitioners