Several members of the New Bedford City Council have expressed their support for the New Bedford Police Department following the release last week of a report suggesting local officers unfairly treat minority youth. Councilors Brian Gomes, Naomi Carney, and Ian Abreu reject the report's conclusions by the Boston-based Citizens for Juvenile Justice as unfounded.

Gomes has filed a motion for Thursday's meeting, calling on his colleagues to stand with the local police department. Former Mayor Scott Lang has denounced the report. The New Bedford Police Department and the New Bedford Police Union have also dismissed the report's findings.

The CfJJ, which supports a radical agenda that includes defunding police and kicking police officers out of schools and public housing in Massachusetts, says the report's findings are based on interviews with five young people. That's hardly a scientific sampling.

The report entitled "We Are the Prey: Racial Profiling and the Policing of Youth in New Bedford" has the sound of a fair, balanced, and unbiased investigation, no? So there is that.

Citizens for Juvenile Justice, like many of the agitators who converged on New Bedford last summer, is attempting to stir up controversy where controversy does not exist. We don't need it.

Mayor Jon Mitchell never did stand with his police department last summer but chose to stand with the outside agitators. It appears Mitchell is doing the same thing with the CfJJ report. Mitchell issued a statement last week saying, "We are committed to confronting any indication of systemic racism in public institutions. The city will review the report and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure policing in New Bedford is even-handed."

Mitchell is a coward. He refuses to stand up for his police officers against such a vicious attack from an outside non-profit. Why is that? Either Mitchell agrees with the report's findings, or he just doesn't have what it takes to rally the troops.

Come on Mayor Mitchell, show some leadership.

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 barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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