New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell has issued a response to the report released last Wednesday that alleges that the New Bedford Police Department practiced racial profiling and unfair policing over the past five years, calling it “dubious at best.”

Mitchell issued his response today, stating his office received the report, entitled “We Are the Prey: Racial Profiling and Policing of Youth in New Bedford,” on Friday. The report was created by the non-profit organization Citizens for Juvenile Justice.

According to the report, the organization received through public records requests nearly 5,000 field incident reports from the New Bedford Police Department from the period between 2015 and June 2020. Through those reports, it determined that although Black people make up just seven percent of the city’s population, they accounted for 46 percent of field incident report subjects.

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The New Bedford Police issued a response via Facebook on Saturday, stating there was a “fundamental discrepancy” in the report, as the department provided 2,210 field reports to the organization, not the nearly 5,000 it claimed. As a result, the department said “it is impossible to make much sense of the rest of the report.”

Mitchelle echoed the same sentiment in his statement.

“Although the report’s methodology is not clearly articulated, a mere cursory review of the document reveals basic errors in tabulation and analysis that render the report’s conclusions dubious at best,” he said, acknowledging the police department’s statement on the number of field incident reports provided.

Mitchell did acknowledge that “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.”

“We in New Bedford are committed to continuous improvement in city government, and in the police department nowadays that means further reductions in crime, as well as maintaining the public’s confidence that policing is being conducted equitably,” Mitchell said. “Our police department has made considerable progress in achieving these goals, and the next police chief will be expected to build on that progress.”

Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro’s final day before his retirement is this Friday, April 23, with Deputy Chief Paul Oliveira taking over as acting chief the following day.

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