Sunday, March 22, 2009

Some Advice to Princeton Borough Police CommissionerSome General Advice to Princeton Boro Police Commissioner

Some General Advice to Princeton Boro Police Commissioner

By Doron Zeilberger

Written: March 22, 2009

Date: March 22, 2009.

To: Ms. Margaret Karcher, Princeton Borough Police Commissioner (by snail-mail)
From: Doron Zeilberger, Princeton, NJ

Copies to:"Tony Federico"
"Dave Dudeck"
"'Sharon Papp'"

Also posted in: and

Dear Ms. Karcher,

You may remember my complaint about the conduct of Sgt. Jonathan Bucchere (#123) from Nov. 16, 2008. In case you forgot, it is available to you (and the general public) here: .

Since my "brush" with the police, and the courtroom, I have been made more aware of other possible misdeeds of members of the Princeton Boro Police Department. I hope that you would take this as constructive criticism to make the Princeton Boro function even better and more ethically, and remembering that being members of the Police force does not make you exempt from the law.

Regarding the present incident, I regert to say that the advice given to me by Lt. Sutter (see his Email message below) was not a good one. He advised me to plead "not guilty". When I appeared in Princeton Boro Municipal Court, on my "court day", Jan. 10, 2009, after having to sit more than two hours, listening to endless cases, mostly of DWI charges (in front of his honor, (then) Municipal Court Judge Russel, who, in my opinion, was not qualified to judge such cases, since he may have been too lenient, since he himself was charged on this offense, back in 1993), it was my turn. When I pleaded "not guilty", I was told that I would have to come again, since the main witness, Sgt. Bucchere (the police officer who issued the summons) was not there. Of course, I changed it immediately to "guilty", since having to come again to this ordeal is a much worse punishment than the $170 fine that I had to pay. This brings me to:

Advice 1: Make sure that all police officers who issue summons, show up to court, at the appropriate dates, so that defendants who choose to plead "not guilty" would not be forced to come back.

Advice 2: If the above is not feasible, ask Lt. Sutter not to give such bad advice, but rather:
"My advice it to plead guilty, this way you would only have to come to court once".

Going to more general issues, I noticed that many police officers do not observe traffic laws. I often noticed them stop way past the stop-sign (and white line) (and sometimes not stopping at all, a few years ago, I was almost run over by a police car that didn't observe the stop-sign, when I was jogging on Pretty Brook Rd.). Also, yesterday (March 21, 2009), I saw a police car parked illegally on Tulane St. (off Nassau St.) I am willing to bet that the police officer went to have lunch at Panera (or somewhere else). I also noticed many times police cars driving (without sirens or flashing lights) way above the speed limit. Another thing I often noticed is that two police cars parked one against the other, with their drivers chatting endlessly, with their engines running (contributing to global warming).

Rather than stalking innocent citizens, who discreetly do "their business" with no one in sight, not bothering anyone, the Princeton Boro Police can do a much better job enforcing traffic laws. For example, the traffic light at the corner of Nassau and Witherspoon St. is violated daily by almost all pedestrians and motorists who pass there. There is a left-turn-arrow on Nassau St. (in the direction due North), so the "Don't Walk Sign" stays for a while. Most pedestrians ignore it, and start walking, preventing the left-turning vehicles to turn during the short-lived arrow, causing congestion, and a potential accident. This brings me to:

Advice 3: Put a police officer, as often as you can, at the corner of Nassau and Witherspoon streets, and issue tickets to pedestrians for not observing the "Don't Walk signal".

Not that motorists are so innocent. At the same intersection, many vehicles keep turning left long after the left-turn-arrow stops, also causing congestion and potential accidents. This brings me to:

Advice 4: Put a police officer, as often as you can, at the corner of Nassau and Witherspoon Sts., and issue tickets to motorists who are turning left when it is no longer one's right of way (i.e. long after the left-arrow ceased).

I also noticed that many cars do not observe the traffic law that pedestrians have the right of way at a crosswalk (without a light). It would be nice if the police would enforce this law much more vigorously.

Going back to the unfortunate incident, police officers should have ethics seminar, teaching them that their duty is to protect the citizens, and fight crime, rather than to write as many possible tickets as possible. This brings me to:

Advice 5: Conduct seminars for the police force, teaching them the importance of common sense and a sense of proportion.

Finally, in order to prevent police abuse of powers (which is very easy, since most people are afraid of the police, and afraid to complain), have an internal police, who would make sure that police officers obey all the traffic and other laws.

Best wishes,

                              Doron Zeilberger

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The unkind conduct of Sgt. Jon Bucchere

Open Letter to Princeton Boro Police Commissioner About the Unkind Conduct of Sgt. Jonathan Bucchere

By Doron Zeilberger

Written: Nov. 16, 2008

To: Ms. Margaret Karcher, Princeton Borough Police Department, 1 Monument Dr., Princeton, NJ 08540 (c/o also sent by snail-mail).

From: Doron Zeilberger, 85 Wilson Rd., Princeton, NJ 08540

Copies To: Sgt. Jonathan Bucchere (Badge #123, Princeton Boro PD) (a.k.a. Jon Bucchere), Lt. Nicholas Sutter (Princeton Boro PD), Chief Anthony Federico, Mayor Mildred Trotman (c/o

Also posted at:

Re: The Unprofessional and unkind conduct of Sgt. Jonathan Bucchere, Badge #123

Dear Ms. Karcher,

I'd like to draw your attention to an unfortunate incident regarding Sgt. Bucchere, who behaved in a way unbecoming a police officer. His conduct displayed a lack of good judgement, lack of common sense, and most distressingly, lack of basic human compassion. I believe that a person behaving in such a way should not be allowed to serve the public.

The details of the incident are as follows. On Nov. 10, 2008, I was walking home from the Princeton Train Station (the "Dinky"), roughly a 20-minute walk. At 8:40pm, as I was passing, "Palmer House"(that belongs to Princeton University) 1 Bayard Lane, (that is roughly across the street from the Police Station), I desperately needed to urinate. Let me point out that 1 Bayard Lane is a huge estate, and the building is very far from Bayard Lane. I turned right into the driveway, (at the Bayard Lane back entrance, not the front entrance of Nassau St.), and immediately proceeded deep into the bushes, right next to a high wall, that prevents both pedestrians and motorists to see anything, and "did my business". It was pitch dark, no one was around (I made sure of that), and the way "I did my business" is so that not to expose any body parts. In the very unlikely event that a passer-by would have walked into the driveway, and shone a flashlight at me, he would have only seen my back. The urine itself landed on the soil, so one can't say that I was violating any hygiene rules.

After I have already finished my "business", a police car drove into that driveway, blinded me with its brights, and out came a police officer, Sgt. Bucchere (badge #123), and in a very aggressive tone of voice screamed at me: "What are you doing here?". I naively and honestly explained to him that I desperately had to go "number one", I have just finished doing it, and that I am about to resume my walk home. I was sure that he would apologize for his rude form of address, and let me go home in peace. However, to my dismay, using the same aggressive tone of voice, commanded me: "Give me an ID", followed by "Stand in front of the car". As I was standing there, blinded by the headlights, waiting for him to prepare a summons, two of his buddies came along (apparently he called-in for some reinforcement, in case such a "dangerous criminal" would try to run away). The night was a bit chilly, so I instinctively put my hands inside my sweatshirt's pockets. Immediately Sgt. Bucchere's buddy screamed at me: "Don't put your hands in your pockets", as though I had concealed weapon.

To sum up, while, taken literally, I did violate the ordinance "urinating in public" (22-13), there were such extremely extenuating circumstances, that any police officer with the minimum of common sense and human decency, would have totally ignored it (once it was clear that I was not disturbing or offending the public), or at least given me a warning. But the humiliating way I was treated by Sgt. Bucchere (and one of his colleagues, whose name I don't know), making me feel like a dangerous criminal, is way out of proportion to the trivial offense. And having to go to court to plead my case (there was no paying-a-fine alternative), makes it even ten times worse.

An even more disturbing thing is the fact that according to the Princeton Boro Police Department's website, Sgt. Bucchere was also a D.A.R.E. instructor. It is bad enough that such a person, lacking basic common sense and basic human compassion, is allowed to serve as a police officer, but such a person should definitely not be allowed to serve as an educator to young children.

(Speaking of D.A.R.E., in the past there were other cases of poor choice of D.A.R.E. instructors. About ten years ago, as I and my wife went to the "closing ceremony" of our daughter's class D.A.R.E. course, I saw one of the instructors smoking (outside) in front of the children. If at all possible, one should choose D.A.R.E. instructors who are non-smokers, but at the very least, they should not be allowed to smoke in front of their students.)

I hope that this incident will inspire you to explain to Sgt. Bucchere, and his colleagues, the importance of treating all citizens with respect and dignity, and to use common sense when they enforce the law, and keep a sense of proportion.