New Bedford Police Chief Won’t Appear at Public Safety Meeting
New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro will not be attending tonight’s meeting of the New Bedford City Council’s Committee on Public Safety and Neighborhoods, despite a unanimous motion requesting him to appear, because Mayor Jon Mitchell believes it is “neither appropriate nor productive” to also have New Bedford Police Union President Hank Turgeon at the same meeting.
On February 25, Ward 3 City Councilor Hugh Dunn filed a motion which was co-sponsored by the entire council and passed 11-0 requesting that Cordeiro brief the committee on recent shootings, including the shooting of a police officer’s home in the Brickenwood development and another shooting on Tallman Street. Dunn also filed motions, which passed unanimously, requesting Cordeiro discuss with the committee the possibility of providing it with weekly crime reports and also requesting an evaluation of the ShotSpotter gunshot detection system.
That appearance was requested to take place on March 10, but Cordeiro was not available. He did, however, release a video to the police department’s Facebook page on March 13 addressing those issues. Cordeiro was again invited to appear before the committee tonight.
In a letter today addressed to City Councilor Brian Gomes, who chairs the public safety committee, Mayor Mitchell said Cordeiro would not appear.
“In my view, it is neither appropriate nor productive to invite a department head and union leader to a public meeting in order to initiate a debate regarding criticisms from a public employee union president about the policies, practices, or operations of a City department,” Mitchell wrote. “City department heads are the appropriate representatives to address questions about their respective departments and to speak to matters of leadership in their departments.”
Mitchell went on to write that by having both Cordeiro and Turgeon at the meeting, the committee “would not be providing a forum for a constructive discussion and would instead create a platform for airing internal grievances.”
Mitchell also cited ongoing contract arbitration between the City of New Bedford and the police union. The union has been very vocal about its displeasure with Cordeiro’s leadership, even asking Mitchell to remove Cordeiro from his position.
In the letter, Mitchell also addressed the issues brought up in Dunn’s motions, pointing out that Cordeiro has “reiterated the importance of transparency” and that in response to the request for weekly crime reports, Cordeiro has already implemented the posting of daily incident and arrest reports to the department’s website.
And while not addressing ShotSpotter directly, Mitchell wrote that he encouraged councilors “with further questions about the operations of the police department, including tactics related to the department’s investigation of crimes in the city, and technology used to support the investigation of crimes, to contact Chief Cordeiro directly rather than to discuss tactics relating to solving crime in a public setting where it may jeopardize the department’s effectiveness in doing so.”
Mitchell ended the letter by stating that “the chief is willing to appear before the committee at the committee’s convenience, provided the objection raised in this letter is addressed.”
WBSM News confirmed that Turgeon is still planning to appear before the Public Safety Committee tonight.
The meeting will be held remotely beginning at 7 p.m. and will be streamed live on the New Bedford Cable Network Facebook page.
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