In a ceremony that was joyous and yet tinged with sadness, two veteran Princeton Police Department officers were promoted in a special ceremony held on Dec. 11 at Monument Hall.
Officers lined up along the wall in the main meeting room at Monument Hall to watch as Officer Leonard Thomas was promoted to sergeant, and Detective Adam Basatemur was promoted to corporal.
The promotion ceremony was held the day after Jersey City Detective Joseph Seals was killed in Jersey City. The officer’s line-of-duty death was acknowledged by a moment of silence, led by Chief of Police Nicholas Sutter.
“As police officers, we were reminded of many things as we watched the tragic events in Jersey City unfold,” Sutter told the attendees.
Sutter reminded the police officers of what is at stake when they say goodbye to their families every day, when they report for duty and listen to the briefing before they go out on the road, and why they pay attention to detail.
“We were reminded why we train hard and seriously and why we stay fit. We were reminded why we further our professional proficiencies and strive to be always better,” Sutter said.
The Jersey City tragedy served to remind the police officers that an entire society and way of life depends on them and on their training, he said.
“We were reminded of how terrible days like yesterday make joyous occasions like today so important. Today’s occasion is so important because we are celebrating the success of two police officers who acknowledge all of the things that I just mentioned,” Sutter said.
The ceremony is a celebration of Thomas’ and Basatemur’s willingness to accept responsibility, he said. It will be different for the officers, who are assuming the burden of leadership.
Thomas and Basatemur will be responsible for ensuring that the police officers under their command will “get the job done,” while also ensuring that they go home safely to their families at the end of their shift, Sutter said.
“I can tell you both from experience that the burden will never be lifted. It will be with you throughout the rest of your careers, and I venture to guess when your careers have ended, as well,” he said.
But the burden will keep them sharp, because failure “will never be acceptable to you. It can’t be,” Sutter told Thomas and Basatemur.
Sutter praised the two police officers, noting that the celebration is recognition of their hard work and dedication. They are two shining examples of the commitment, professionalism and dedication that Princeton police officers exhibit daily, he said.
The chief also acknowledged the officers’ families and the support that they provide. It has not been easy for the officers and their families, and that’s why the families deserve thanks.
Then, Sutter introduced Sgt. Thomas and Cpl. Basatemur.
Both police officers were born and raised in Princeton, and graduated from Princeton High School.
Thomas earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Drew University in 2005, and received a master’s degree in administrative science from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2013.
Thomas joined the former Princeton Borough Police Department in 2006. He served in the patrol division and the Community Services Until until 2012, when he was assigned to the detective bureau.
Thomas was assigned to the Safe Neighborhoods Bureau when the former Princeton Borough Police Department and the former Princeton Township Police Department merged upon the consolidation of the two towns in 2013.
Thomas has served as a field training officer for new police officers. He earned the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety’s Top Gun DWI Enforcement award in 2010, and the Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s Distinguished Service award in 2018.
Basatemur earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Mercer County Community College in 1995, and moved to California. He worked for the Los Angeles Police Department for several years, until he decided to return home.
Basatemur was hired by the former Princeton Borough Police Department in 1998, and was assigned to the patrol and traffic divisions. He also is a field training officer and served in those capacities until he was transferred to the detective bureau in 2008.
Basatemur was named Officer of the Year in 2005. He received Meritorious Service awards in 2000 and 2001, and was the recipient of the 200 Club’s Peter Hodge Award in 2018 for helping to capture a murder suspect.
“It has been my privilege to serve alongside of Sgt. Thomas and Cpl. Basatemur for many years. There are many people depending on them, and I am confident that they will exceed all of our expectations,” Sutter said.