Chief of the Princeton Police Department David Dudeck will retire on Oct. 1 of this year, according to a separation agreement approved by the Princeton Council in a 5-1 vote on Thursday evening. The agreement is the result of negotiations between attorneys representing Dudeck and the town of Princeton.
Dudeck has been on medical leave from the department since Feb. 26, when allegations of administrative misconduct were made against him. The allegations made against Dudeck have been completely withdrawn, town attorney Edwin Schmierer said.
The agreement allows Dudeck to remain on medical leave according to the terms of the department’s medical leave policy. He will make use of his accrued holiday and vacation hours to remain on leave until his retirement date. Dudeck has 788.5 hours of accrued time, representing a total amount of holiday and vacation hours as well as personal and terminal leave allowances.
Dudeck has served in the police department for nearly 30 years. The Town Topics reported rumors that Dudeck’s retirement date is fixed at Oct. 1 to allow him to complete a 30-year tenure, in order to ensure that he may retire with a higher pension than he would receive if he stepped down before that date.
“There was a calculation made that any allegations against Dave would result in his retirement. The stakes for his family are just too great,” the Council’s lone dissenter, Jo Butler, said, explaining the town’s reasons for negotiating the separation agreement.
“I cannot claim that there were not choices, that this was the only possible outcome, or even the best outcome. I don’t believe that,” Butler said of the agreement.
Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller, who voted to approve the agreement, added that she would have preferred to see an investigation of the allegations made against Dudeck rather than the separation agreement.
Mayor Liz Lempert announced that the city will be conducting an audit of the police department to examine the department’s structure and management.
Before the vote, several local residents expressed a desire for a full investigation of the charges rather than a retirement agreement.
Jerome McGowan, who introduced himself as a longtime local resident familiar with the department, said that he questioned the timing of the allegations.
“When you had the two departments, they never liked each other. Consolidation called for them to be all together,” McGowan said. “I knew it was going to happen here. It was obvious.”
He added that little information about the allegations have been released to the public.
“There’s been no trial. I’m quite sure Council knows more than is being told, which we aren’t privy to,” McGowan said.
Schmierer emphasized that the Council is legally restrained from publicly discussing personnel matters.
Roger Martindell, a member of the former Borough Council, spoke prior to the vote urging the Council members not to approve the agreement, saying that by doing so they would leave a “perceived offender … with a fat retirement package and sweep the matter under the rug."
"Over the years, that strategy costs taxpayers millions of dollars and does nothing to improve the safety of the community," Martindell added.
Martindell asked the Council to investigate the allegations and determine if they are true.
Several residents noted that the allegations made against Dudeck were based on information that was many years old.
“This only suggests that outside forces may have influenced events that have led to the charges being made against him,” Barbara Trelstad, a member of the former Borough Council, said. “It is well-known fact that many members were not in favor of consolidation, and that there is tension between the police union and the management.”
Former Borough Council member Kevin Wilkes ’83 asked that the Council investigate the allegations against Dudeck further. Wilkes said that the consolidation of the police departments has required Dudeck to make a number of difficult decisions that have been controversial with his staff over the past year, such as requiring some employees to accept buy-out packages.
“I urge you to assess the motives of the accuser: Were they passed over for a promotion? Were they resentful about the buyout decision? ... I don’t think you should throw out the chief who’s addressing these complicated issues of consolidation,” Wilkes said.
“I think you need to stand behind the chief and support the difficult work that needs to be done," he added. "If infractions have been committed, they should be properly adjudicated."
Townsperson Peter Marks said that he felt Dudeck’s reputation was being besmirched while very little about the charges is known by the public.
“The only thing the public knows about this matter is the charge of locker-room language,” he said.