Coelho ‘Reassured’ After Meeting with Police, Fire Chiefs
NEW BEDFORD — On Wednesday, the City Council's Committee on Public Safety and Neighborhoods met and invited New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro and Fire Chief Michael Gomes to talk about the recent rash of suspected arson cases across the city, as well as gang violence and other crime issues in city neighborhoods.
Councillor-at-Large Deborah Coelho, the chair of the Committee on Public Safety, told WBSM's Brian Thomas that Chief Gomes said she was glad that Chief Gomes publicly acknowledged there was an ongoing investigation of a possible serial arsonist.
"If there's work being done, there's work being done," she said. "We'll just have to wait and see, and trust the investigation moving forward."
Coelho said Chief Gomes is asking the public to report any suspicious fire-related activity.
"If you see something lit outside, whether it's a piece of paper, or a towel or whatever, if even if it's not a fire, even if it's something you can put out yourself, you still should dial 911 and get the Fire Department there, because they have to see if it's a piece of the puzzle and if connects to anything," she said.
She also said that hearing from Chief Gomes was reassuring.
"From the information I got that was public, and the information I got that wasn't public, I feel reassured as the chairperson, yeah," she said. "I'm relaying that out there, that this is being investigated."
As for gang violence and crime, Coelho noted that Chief Cordeiro "isn't working alone," and mentioned the work of the entire police department, the gang unit, the narcotics unit and state and federal agencies all working together.
"They're going about it on a daily basis," she said. "They're out there. They have been very visible, for example, on North Front Street, with cruisers parked out there with police sitting in there, sometimes I see them 24/7."
However, Coelho said she did question whether or not there were enough foot patrols in problem areas.
"I think the 'Walk and Talk' program needs to be a bit more visible," Coelho said. "The police chief felt they're working hard on that, and he said he's getting calls from people that are seeing it, which I think is great."
Coelho also mentioned that there are more and more cameras all over the city to catch criminals in the act, even "moving cameras."
"They might be in one area one day, another area another day," she said. "Don't be fooled into thinking there are no cameras. They're moving, so you're never going to know where they are. Will it stop crime? No, but it will make it quicker to catch someone who is committing a crime, and take them off the streets."
Coelho also said she feels police can only take things "one day at a time," but that her experience living in an inner-city neighborhood tells her that once summer is over, crime will curb.
"Once back-to-school starts occuring, the weather starts changing, then so does behaviors," she said. "People are not going to be hanging out in the streets as much as they would in the summertime, when it's warm and hot and fun and parties. Everything gets moved indoors, and the behaviors change accordingly."
Coehlo also said that she has not seen any of the crime numbers for the first half of 2017, but her general feeling that is aside from a few "spikes," she believes the overall numbers will be down.
Councillor Brian Gomes also called into Thomas' show, and called the meeting "orchestrated," to undermine his proposed Public Safety Summit.
"It was orchestrated to tell the people of the city that everything is good, we've got it under control and the city is fine," Gomes said, taking issue with the fact that Coehlo told Chief Cordeiro toward the end of the meeting that she didn't see the need to hold the Public Safety Summit after everything the Committee had heard Wednesday night.