Mitchell Still Won’t Defend New Bedford Police [OPINION]
Mayor Jon Mitchell has hit back at a report released last week that suggests the New Bedford Police Department practiced racial profiling and unfair policing between 2015 and 2020. While Mitchell said the report entitled "We Are The Prey: Racial Profiling and Policing of Youth in New Bedford" is "dubious at best," he stopped short of defending the city's police officers.
The report, prepared by the Boston-based Citizens for Juvenile Justice, was criticized by the New Bedford Police Department for what it said is a "fundamental discrepancy" in the data at the heart of the report's findings. CFJJ claimed it evaluated nearly 5,000 field incident reports it obtained through a freedom of information request.
But the NBPD said it only gave the group 2,210 filed incident reports. As a result, the department said in a statement, "it is impossible to make much sense of the rest of the report."
The New Bedford Police Union, several members of the New Bedford City Council, and former New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang have also dismissed the ascertains contained in the report as unfounded. But not Mitchell.
Mitchell said, "preserving and strengthening the trust between police and the residents they serve is a serious matter," and that it should be "the focus of public discussion here in New Bedford and across America." Mitchell said the New Bedford Police Department has "made considerable progress" in achieving the goal of "maintaining the public's confidence that policing is being conducted equitably." He said, "the next police chief will be expected to build on that progress."
Phooey, Mayor Mitchell! The report is garbage, as you've acknowledged, but not just because the data is bad. The conclusions are bad as well. New Bedford's police officers are not a bunch of racist yahoos, nor are the citizens of the city they protect and defend. The low crime stats you like to boast about are the results of their work and not yours.
The police are us. They come from our neighborhoods. They are our family. They are our friends. Why are you so reluctant to defend them, Mayor Mitchell?
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.