NEW BEDFORD - Mayor Jon Mitchell and the New Bedford Police Department are rolling out a proposal that would expand video surveillance abilities throughout the city.

Through the proposal, neighborhoods around Monte Park, lower County Street, Ashley Park, and the Temple Landing Neighborhood would all see additional use of fixed police cameras. The areas were chosen as a result of data collected by the police department and the new police management program, CompStat.

Mayor Mitchell says a camera is often the most effective witness during criminal prosecution.

"Camera evidence can make all the difference in solving a crime," said Mitchell. "There's an old saying that goes 'you can't cross examine a tape.' And that's very true. We know that and the criminals know that very well, also."

Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro called the cameras "state of the art," and said additional cameras will bolster the efforts of the men and women in uniform on the ground.

"By taking this technology and pairing that up with our police officers' abilities, it will only enhance and give us a better success ratio in these neighborhoods, bringing them up to par to the rest of the city."

The additional cameras would complement other initiatives being undertaken by the New Bedford Police Department, including changes in community policing tactics, changes in station-level leadership, implementing additional reforms based on a strategic planning exercise for the department, and the use of "saturation patrols" to allow for a sustained police presence over a multi-week period.

Councillor at Large Brian Gomes applauded the stepped-up surveillance initiative, but asked residents to keep the lines of communication open.

"This is not the savior of keeping your neighborhood safe," said Gomes. "We still need the neighborhood people to be involved; to be the eyes and ears; to let the police department know when you see something that doesn't belong there, shouldn't be part of your neighborhood, or is wreaking havoc in your neighborhood. You still have to pick up the phone."

The new cameras would cost a total of about $194,000, which would come from the City's free cash account.

A request for funding for the proposal will head to the City Council for review.

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