The Chief Justice of the Mass. District Courts visited New Bedford Thursday to learn what police, lawyers and court staff want in their next presiding judge.

The current presiding judge, Bernadette Sabra, is retiring on January 11.

Police and government officials in New Bedford have expressed frustration with District Court judges in the past for setting low bails, enabling defendants they consider dangerous to get back on the street.

Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro met with Chief Justice Paul Dawley on Thursday, saying New Bedford deserved better.

"This is a great city, we have wonderful people and a lot of nice people live in these neighborhoods," said Cordeiro. "They are deserving of a good quality of life in their neighborhoods, and the best way to do that is to get these impact players off the streets."

Cordeiro said he urged Dawley to appoint someone who knows what's going on in the city of New Bedford.

"You have to know the players, you have to know what's going on in the community," said Cordeiro. "If that person is not from the area, the Chief said, "you have to listen to the people that have worked here for a long time, and know the community really well."

Cordeiro says the new presiding judge should be someone who places a high priority on public safety.