NEW BEDFORD - New Bedford City Councilors brought up the importance of increasing the size of the city's police department Thursday evening, though with some differing ideas on how to utilize the additional manpower. 

The topic was first brought up by Councilor at Large Debora Coelho's motion to invite New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro to a future meeting of the Committee on Public Safety to discuss increased foot patrols and community policing. Coelho said she believes Cordeiro would be on board with the practice of placing officers in criminally-active neighborhoods to build a rapport with residents.

"I think he's very open to that idea of really bringing back foot patrols," Coelho said. "I think it's a conversation that we're going to look deeper into and I really hope for the sake of neighborhoods that it comes back."

Fellow Councilor at Large Brian Gomes said though foot patrols could work in business areas and other active pockets of the city, the areas of increased crime require more specialized enforcement and patrol officers would be at risk.

"In these areas we're talking about, where the crime continues to fathom from and escalate from, we have to go in there with every resource that we have," Gomes said. "We cannot send walking patrols, community police officers, in there. They're dealing with some very dangerous people and dangerous situations."

All councilors agreed that funding for the department is the biggest need to be addressed, and Ward 2 Councilor Steven Martins called on Mayor Jon Mitchell to increase the police department's budget in the upcoming fiscal year.

"I strongly believe that in the 2017-2018 budget that there's got to be an increase in the police department's budget so we can get more police officers out on the streets," said Martins.

Martins and other councilors will send a letter to Mitchell's office requesting he consider increasing the department's budget.

During the city's budget process, the council only has the power to cut spending and cannot increase spending to any department.

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