OPINION | Barry Richard: NBPD Chief Accused of Sexual Harassment, Racism
An otherwise sleepy race for Mayor of New Bedford has taken a turn for the nasty with just two weeks to go until election day.
The day began with word that the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination had dismissed a complaint filed by 30 year veteran police officer and mayoral hopeful, Charlie Perry against Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro. Things quickly went downhill from there as Perry, in a statement released on his campaign Facebook page accused Cordeiro of sexually harassing two female and one male police officers, and of not liking black people. He also alleges that Cordeiro "covered up" a drunk driving accident involving his son in February of this year.
Perry has declined to elaborate further on the statement and so far at least Chief Cordeiro has not returned calls seeking comment on the allegations.
The complaint, filed with the MCAD last Spring alleges, among other things, that Chief Cordeiro routinely disciplined minority officers more severely than white officers and that Cordeiro offended him by sending a department-wide email message quoting the late President Theodore Roosevelt, who Perry calls a "racist" and "bigot."
A review by local officials, including New Bedford's Director of Human Resources Sandra Vezina turned up no violation of the city's anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.
Details concerning the new allegations of sexual harassment made this morning by Officer Perry remain unclear a this point, as do the allegation's involving Chief Cordeiro's son.
These developments will likely impact the upcoming mayoral election. How can they not? At best they expose the unhappiness of a veteran police officer with a system that has seen many changes over the years. At worse it pulls back the covers exposing a police department rife with institutional problems.
This is not the first time that grievances have verbalized by a veteran officer about the management style of Chief Cordeiro since his recent appointment. The City Council needs to demand a thorough investigation of the power structure of the New Bedford Police Department.
Perry faces three-term incumbent Mayor Jon Mitchell on November 7th.
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.