New Bedford Mayor, Police Chief Spinning FBI Crime Statistics [OPINION]
The dynamic duo is at it again, playing fast and loose with the truth about crime in New Bedford.
Yep, Mayor Jon Mitchell and Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro, caught red-handed using fuzzy math in telling the tale of the city's crime rate over the last 10 years.
You may recall last week when New Bedford Police Union President Hank Turgeon questioned why crime figures submitted to the New Bedford City Council during the budget process were so much higher than those contained in the FBI's crime statistics later the same year. Turgeon suggested the numbers were either inflated to support Cordeiro's budget request or deflated later on for public relations purposes. This seemed to happen over a period of several years, according to Turgeon's research.
Ward 3 City Councilor Hugh Dunn demanded an explanation from Cordeiro. How could there be hundreds of more crimes reported during the budget process that mysteriously disappear when the FBI crime stats are released later on? Inquiring minds want to know.
The Police Department's Communications Director Melissa Batchilder was only too happy to explain it to the Standard-Times. It seems there is this thing called the "hierarchy rule" that the FBI uses in processing crime statistics. Batchilder says Cordeiro reports every single crime to the city council and the FBI, but the bureau invokes the "hierarchy rule," sharply reducing our crime stats.
Here is how it works: if an individual commits multiple offenses in one incident, the FBI counts only one and lumps the rest together as one incident. Three rapes and a murder count as one murder and the rapes go untabulated by the FBI, according to Batchilder. Therefore the final crime stats for New Bedford are lower than the actual number of crimes committed.
Are you buying this?
Cordeiro knows how many crimes he's submitted to the city council and the FBI and how many fewer are reported in the FBI's crime stats report. He sees the huge discrepancy yet he and Mitchell still claim the city's crime rate has steadily declined by 38 percent between 2011 and 2019.
Why didn't Mitchell and Cordeiro tell us about the hierarchy rule before, if such a thing exists? Why didn't they tell us that the more than 4,000 crimes they logged were reduced by the FBI by hundreds in its final crime stats report? They took the lower number and ran with it even though they knew it was an inaccurate representation of how many crimes occurred in New Bedford. That is dishonest.
If you thought crime in New Bedford was actually rising and not declining, you were probably right. The numbers put out last week by the mayor and the police chief are garbage designed to sway public opinion.
Mitchell and Cordeiro are intentionally misrepresenting crime statistics for political purposes. Both men owe the people of New Bedford a full and complete explanation for this.
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.