New Bedford Police Chief Kept His Word on Dunn Probe [OPINION]
When three New Bedford police officers failed to file charges against City Councilor Hugh Dunn, the newly-appointed Police Chief Paul Oliveira sensed that things were just not adding up. Dunn's car bounced off of two others in a parking lot early the early morning hours of May 1, and it appeared as though he might have attempted to flee the scene. Many suspected that Dunn was intoxicated at the time of the crash.
But the investigating officers didn't ask Dunn where he had been or where he was going. They failed to ask if he had consumed alcohol before beginning his wild adventure in downtown New Bedford just after closing time at the local bars.
All of this sounded mighty fishy, and we demanded an explanation. How could this happen? Would we be afforded the same treatment? It stank immediately of special treatment for a connected politician.
New to the job and fully aware that his predecessor, Joseph Cordeiro, had retired after being less than candid with the public about serious crimes occurring in the city, Chief Oliveira promised to get to the bottom of the investigation into the Dunn affair. In other words, investigate his own officers handling of the investigation. The Division of Professional Standards went to work.
Some doubted that Oliveira was sincere and questioned whether we'd ever know the truth. Well, Oliveira was sincere and has exposed the truth. The investigation into Dunn's crash was handled "very poorly," according to a 140-page report obtained by the Standard-Times. The three officers, Abraham Nazario, Jesse Branagan, and Algimantas Harrell were disciplined to include unpaid suspensions. One officer was suspended for 20 days, the others for three days each.
Chief Oliveira, in a statement to the Standard-Times, said, "I am disappointed that the failure to properly investigate the accident or charge the operator involved with any violation has in part, diminished the public's trust in our department." By keeping his word to the people of New Bedford, Chief Oliveira has gone a long way towards restoring that trust.
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.