For a guy who insists he doesn't support the defund the police movement, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell is sure as hell doing a good job of defunding the police. Mitchell closed the downtown police substation to public access and will do the same to Station 3 on Ashley Boulevard at Tarkiln Hill Road later this week.

Mitchell, always the smartest one in the room, says substations are archaic. He says almost every community in Massachusetts has closed their substations already, so we should too. I don't know about you, but the "everyone else is doing it" argument never washed with my mother when I tried to invoke it.

Earlier this summer, the sign was removed from the downtown police substation and the desk officers taken out. As a result, the public lost access to the substation. The same will happen on Thursday at Station 3. In addition to the loss of the desk officers, each shift will lose at least one patrol officer, just like what happened downtown.

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Before Mitchell defunded the police department, he and his former Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro tried to convince the public that violent crime had almost ceased to exist in New Bedford. Come on, man! It was just a few "gang wannabes," the police union, and the folks at WBSM trying to make him look bad. No crime, no need for police stations. Hey, maybe we can call on the towns for mutual aid when someone robs a bank like we do when there is a fire.

Fred Kalisz learned a hard lesson by messing with public safety. I suspect that if Mitchell were on the ballot this fall instead of in 2023, he would not be reducing police services. Let's see what kind of memory the voting public has.

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 and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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