Mayor Mitchell Defends NBPD’s Transparency with Local Media
NEW BEDFORD — The relay of information from the police to press was under fire during Mayor Jon Mitchell’s weekly appearance on the Barry Richard Show Wednesday.
The mayor and WBSM’s Barry Richard sparred in a debate over whether the New Bedford Police Department, and by association the City of New Bedford, has been up to par recently in responding to media requests for information on crimes that occur in the area.
More specifically, the conversation centered around a Monday night shooting that occurred at the 160-block of Chancery Street, right near the Temple Landing apartment complex.
WBSM News reported Monday night that witnesses interviewed at the crime scene and outside of St. Luke’s Hospital reported two young men were shot. Accordingly, WBSM News reached out to the New Bedford Police Department at approximately 9:30 p.m. Monday night, requesting confirmation and details on the apparent shooting through several emails, phone calls, and even a text message to a source within the department.
WBSM News received no response from the NBPD until approximately 10:40 a.m. the following morning, just over 13 hours after sending the initial request.
Richard questioned the amount of time it took for the NBPD to respond, and why the response was only one sentence that seemed to conflict with witness statements gathered at the scene by WBSM News.
“This occurred on the 160-block of Chancery St., not in the South End. We can confirm one victim received a gunshot wound the leg, and another was treated for injuries. Both were alert and conscious. We are further investigating, and that is all we have to provide at this time,” read the response from New Bedford Police spokesman Lt. Nathaniel Rodriguez.
In response to Richard’s question of why the basic facts surrounding the incident couldn’t be disclosed to notify the public of any changes to their safety, the mayor claimed the media wants law enforcement to disclose everything.
“Folks in law enforcement have a very different interpretation of what may be publicly disclosed as opposed to what the media might think. So, the media wants all the information available to law enforcement,” the mayor said.
New Bedford Police also told WBSM News that one of the victims suffered a gunshot wound to the leg while the other “was treated for injuries” sustained in the incident, leaving unclear the total amount of people that were shot at, and the total amount of victims facing injuries related to the shooting incident. Police also say the victims “both were alert and conscious.”
“I’m not about to spill the beans on any given investigation, on this one or any other one,” said the mayor. “We don’t disclose the details of investigations because police are actively working this. We don’t want people to think that the police are going in one direction or that they take steps to destroy evidence or intimidate witnesses in light of what’s been publicly disclosed.”
Mayor Mitchell also told Richard that the area surrounding Temple Landing, known to be dangerous for years, is a “very safe area.”
“The Temple Landing area is a very safe area. It’s so much safer than it used to be," he said. "The police have a heavy presence there this week. It’s going to continue to do that. They have leads in the investigation that they’re actively working and they obviously have access to electronic evidence to, there may be camera footage or the like that could shed some light on it."
“People shouldn’t feel like it’s a totally unsafe area. It’s remarkably safer than it used to be," he said.
As originally reported by WBSM News, friends and relatives were seen gathering outside of St. Luke’s Hospital as the two victims awaited transport to Rhode Island hospital. Trauma response personnel from the City were also spotted on scene consoling the group.
Ward Four City Councilor Dana Rebeiro, whose ward in which the alleged shooting occurred, was also on scene addressing the victim’s families and friends outside the hospital.
“I just hope this neighborhood heals well and our community moves forward,” said Rebeiro.
New Bedford Police continue to investigate.