The Buck Stops on Chief Cordeiro’s Desk [OPINION]
A series of poor decisions put the lives of New Bedford police officers at risk last week. Someone thought it was good policy not to inform the public about a shooting at a police officer's apartment at Brickenwood and then neglected to send out a broadcast BOLO or "be on the lookout" message on the police radio.
On Tuesday, WBSM Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro said a BOLO was transmitted on the police radio, and officers who say otherwise are mistaken.
"If you’re on a paid detail and you’ve got your radio on, you would have heard it,” Cordeiro said. “If you’re in a cruiser it comes on your (mobile data terminal), it comes on your radio, that BOLO went out, everybody that’s working would have got it. Anybody that was working and had their radios on would have had it,” said Cordeiro.
Cordeiro walked back that statement on Thursday. When confronted with evidence that no BOLO was broadcast over police radio channels, Cordeiro instead said a message had been sent using the department's electronic messaging system, which has a limited reach.
Cordeiro said the investigating detectives decided not to inform the public of the shooting. And he seemed to suggest that a dispatcher may have been responsible for the electronic message and its content.
It appears Cordeiro is taking no responsibility for any of this.
Mayor Jon Mitchell peddled the BOLO story on my program on Wednesday. He ignored an offer to appear on the program on Thursday to address Cordeiro's revised version of events. Instead, Mitchell's press aid called my boss, presumably to straighten me out. Cordeiro called my boss a few times, too.
By failing to issue a broadcast BOLO, police officers in several surrounding communities were endangered. The assailant must have driven through Dartmouth and Westport since the car he used in the commission of the crime was found abandoned in Fall River. As best we can tell, officers in those towns were not alerted that a gunman who shot at a cop's house was on the loose and could be headed for Fall River.
The buck stops on Chief Cordeiro's desk. It is his department. The spin and deflection have to stop. And Mayor Mitchell needs to demand that someone is held accountable for some poor decisions that might have resulted in the loss of life.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.