Crude Vagrants an Ongoing Problem in Downtown New Bedford
Business owners in Downtown New Bedford, still reeling from the recent closing of the downtown police station, are demanding relief from crude vagrants who relieve themselves seemingly whenever and wherever they choose.
A downtown merchant shared the above photo with me taken on Monday of a man who selected a William Street door on the Bristol Community College campus to complete his business. The door front is mere blocks from Mayor Jon Mitchell's office in City Hall.
Merchants have expressed frustration with the crude behavior, alleged drug dealing, and other antics performed by a cast of characters who hang in the downtown area for much of the day.
City Council President Ian Abreu has described finding a vagrant defecating in the parking garage elevator at the Zeiterion Theater.
"Obviously when an individual is seen committing a lewd act in a public space, it's safe to assume they are suffering from some type of mental disorder and need assistance," Abreu said.
"Our city cannot allow acts of public indecency to go unfettered because that affects the quality of life for everyone – residents, business owners, and visitors alike," he said.
Abreu said he hopes the coming state budget will include additional funding to address mental health and addiction matters.
Last summer, the New Bedford Fire Department hosed down a number of storefronts and sidewalks commonly used by the vagrants while relieving themselves.
At the time, Police Chief Paul Oliveira told me the police were attempting to get as many vagrants into programs as possible. Apparently, more needs to be done.
Chief Oliveira is meeting this week with a group of downtown business owners "to address concerns they have and arrive at some solutions."
"We are also continuing to work with our social service providers to help us address these issues," Oliveira said.
Oliveira said New Bedford is a "small footprint of many other cities across the country."
"We all share issues with homelessness, drug addiction, and mental health," he said.