NEW BEDFORD— New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell responded Monday afternoon to a letter sent to him by New Bedford Police Union President Hank Turgeon asking for Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro to be removed from his position.

The letter was sent directly to Mayor Mitchell, addressing various concerns the union has with current Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro.

"From the date of his appointment to current, we have had to file 39 grievances and 3 unfair labor practices. In the past, when there were disagreements, both sides tried to resolve them. Filing a grievance was always the last resort," the letter states.

Earlier this month, the FBI swept many areas across Massachusetts, arresting 62 members of the Latin Kings gang. According to U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, New Bedford was a focal point of this sweep due to the high crime allegedly caused by gang members in the New Bedford area. The union's letter puts the blame on Chief Corderio for the recent growth of the gang.

"Obviously, his inability to lead and poor decision making added to the recent growth of the vicious criminal gang, the Latin Kings. The Latin Kings expanded their operation in the north end of our city as our officers were assigned to fixed positions like Community Outreach Initiatives, COI's, and designated patrols which led to the FBI having to intercede and conduct a major sweep," Turgeon wrote.

In the letter's closing statement, Turgeon asks for the removal of Chief Cordeiro, citing selfish actions such as using funds for international and domestic travel and new trucks.

"Why has the Chief traveled to Israel, Mexico, and Florida for training? The Union would like to know what the chief brought back to the department from these trainings? Cordeiro's incompetence, inefficiency, and his lack of priorities for officer safety should all, without a doubt, give you just cause to remove Chief Cordeiro," he wrote.

Read the complete Police Union letter here: New Bedford Police Union Letter.

In September, Mayor Mitchell and Chief Cordeiro issued a joint statement responding to a vote by the union which expressed opposition to Chief Cordeiro's leadership.

On Monday afternoon, the mayor's office told WBSM News that the mayor takes the same position he had back in September and referred WBSM back to that statement.

"I want to make it very clear to the residents of New Bedford that Chief Cordeiro has my full confidence and support as he works to modernize and strengthen the New Bedford Police Department. At a time of limited taxpayer resources, New Bedford needs and deserves the best police force possible, and Chief Cordeiro is the right person to lead our dedicated officers," Mitchell said in that September statement.

In that same joint statement issued back in September, Chief Cordeiro gave his response.

"Thirty-three years ago, I swore an oath to protect and serve the residents of New Bedford as a police officer. While I am disappointed by the latest action initiated by the union leadership, I am not surprised given that we are currently engaged in negotiating a new contract, and union's leadership has sought to lobby for public pressure with tactics like this," he said.

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