The Princeton Council officially appointed former captain Christopher Morgan as the new police chief of the Princeton Police Department on a Sept. 30 Zoom call. Morgan replaced former chief Nicholas Sutter, who served in the role since 2014.
Morgan previously served as acting chief of the former Princeton Township Police Department before Princeton Borough and Princeton Township consolidated in 2014. He was promoted to captain of the Princeton Police Department in February of 2019. He has been in law enforcement since 1998, when he graduated from the Trenton Police Academy.
Morgan began his career as a sheriff’s clerk in the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and moved to the former Princeton Township Police Department in 2000. He has received the Honorable Service Award and the Mercer County Volunteer of the Year Award from the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.
The appointment comes at a time when renewed attention is fixed on policing in America. After months of Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of police killings of Black people, many Americans have been calling for police reform or divestment from police altogether.
In his new role, Morgan hopes to continue the work of the department to improve policing by focusing on community relations, implementing implicit bias training, and starting a civilian police academy.
“The department has always been in the forefront of change and has implemented many elements of the 21st-century policing model over the past few years,” he said in an interview with The Daily Princetonian.
One example is the police department’s employment of body cameras.
“We have just recently disseminated body-worn cameras to all of our officers, which is part of our commitment to being transparent,” Morgan said. “We continue to review officer activity to ensure professionalism.”
The department has other plans for enhancing community relations in the future.
“We will be exploring ways to further engage with our community partners to include having their input and participation in our department training, to include implicit bias training, as well as starting our first civilian police academy,” Morgan added.
The civilian police academy is a program instituted in police departments around the country that help civilians familiarize themselves with the activities of their local police.
He further emphasized the importance of community relations to the Princeton Police Department.
“Even with the recent changes to the leadership and command staff within the police department, we remain committed to being a community service organization,” he said. “We consider ourselves to be a professional organization that communicates and engages with the community and continues to explore ways to grow as an organization.”
Morgan noted that one major problem facing the police department is a lack of officers.
“The department has had several officers retire in the past year, and we have opened up our recruitment process to begin a selection process to fill these vacancies,” he said.
Five other officers were promoted on Sept. 30 in the same Princeton Council meeting in which Morgan was promoted. Jon Bucchere, previously a patrol commander, replaced Morgan as Captain.
In a mayoral proclamation bestowed on former chief of police Sutter to celebrate his retirement after more than 25 years, Mayor Liz Lempert wrote, “As a transformative leader, [Sutter] leaves behind a department that is more diverse, more community oriented, more progressive and better equipped to face today’s challenges and those of the future.”
At the Sept. 30 Princeton Council meeting, Morgan commended Sutter’s work as Chief of Police.
“The police department, I have to say, has benefited over the years from the outstanding leadership of Chief Sutter,” he said. “He brought this department through consolidation, unified two organizations, and really provided the direction and guidance during his tenure as chief and really created what is now our current approach to policing in Princeton.”