New Bedford statistical data reveal crime is down. The numbers have been released by the police department and echoed during Mayor Jon Mitchell's State of the City address. Crime is down. In each of these categories: murder, shootings, assaults, rape, burglary and robberies, the arrow points downward.

Since the March 9 address, a 16 year old guns down a 20 something. Add to that a stabbing and a slew of store robberies. I won't pretend to have all the answers. I do have an interesting idea to make life safer at the area mom + pop and chain convenience stores. An idea already in practice, particularly at the Xtra Mart store at the corner of Shawmut Ave. and Durfee Street.

  1. It's ok to stay open late, but don't allow patrons inside the store after 7 PM. Xtra Mart is vulnerable at night, because their doors swing open until 10 PM.
  2. Set-up a shatter proof and bullet proof window to the side. Equip said window with an intercom system so customers can clearly communicate with the store clerk(s).
  3. Customers relay to a clerk their order. The clerk retrieves the customer's order, and rings all items up at the cash register. The clerk collects payment, through a chute attached to the window. Upon receipt of payment, the clerk dispatches the order through the same chute to said customer. The transaction is complete and the customer goes on her/his merry way.

Impersonal? No doubt. Is it safer? Without question! There's no gun toting clown for a scared store clerk to deal with, and the store owner doesn't anguish from losing $$$s due to an armed robbery.

The sad reality: the New Bedford Expo's, Cumby's, Tedeschi's and 7-11's need to lock their doors 24/7, and totally deal with their customers from a translucent, shatter-proof window. Bold measures are necessary to save money and lives. 

Editor’s Note:   Brian Thomas is the host of Brian’s Beat on 1420 WBSM New Bedford.  He can be heard weekdays from 10am-Noon and Saturdays from 6am-9am.  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.