New Bedford Administration’s Secrecy Wearing Thin [OPINION]
It happened again last week. As we reported, a major crime occurred in the early hours of Thursday morning, and New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell and Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro did their best to keep it a secret. Cover it up. Keep the public from hearing about it. But that is routine for this administration.
At approximately 2:45 am last Thursday, an armed assailant launched an assault on a New Bedford police officer's apartment. The assailant fired at least eight rounds into the apartment. Fortunately, the officer was on duty and was not at home at the time. No one was injured.
A nearby surveillance camera recorded the shooting and the license plate of the getaway car. The car was eventually located and towed by police. As of this writing, to our knowledge, the suspect remains at large.
Since no one called the police at the time, most police officers were unaware that the assault had happened. Detectives were summoned when the officer returned from his shift and reported the damage.
Multiple officers told me it was 12 hours before they were formally notified of the assault. If true, that means dozens of officers were sent out on the streets unaware that there was a gunman out there who might want to target them next. This is completely unacceptable.
If what we are told is true, Mitchell and Cordeiro owe these officers and the general public an explanation. Of course, we couldn't ask either man about it on Friday as neither man was available to comment.
Mitchell released a statement through his spokesman Jonathan Carvalho late Friday, some 36 hours after the incident occurred and after Mitchell took a pounding on my program for three hours. In it, he claimed that Chief Cordeiro "released important information without sharing details that might compromise this investigation."
Bullcrap. Cordeiro's statement was also a day and a half after the incident and after he had been called out on the radio.
Carvalho's statement continued, "The Mayor well appreciates the need to keep the public informed, but as a former federal prosecutor, he understands better than most that the disclosure of some information not only can undermine an investigation, but can potentially jeopardize the safety of individuals connected to the incident."
More bullcrap. No one sought information that might "undermine" or "jeopardize" an investigation. A simple statement acknowledging an incident when it occurs is all we ask. It's what the people deserve. It's what we demand. And by the way, Cordeiro published the cop's street name, we didn't.
The idea that "The Mayor well appreciates the need to keep the public informed," is more bullcrap. This administration goes out of its way to keep information from the press and the public regularly. The public knows it too, and many folks have had enough of it.
Mayor Mitchell, your administration is the most secretive I have dealt with in more than 40 years in broadcasting. You must be honest with the people, and honesty means fully cooperating with the media and providing information important to the public in a timely fashion. You do neither.
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.