New Bedford Police Union Denounces Racial Profiling Report
The New Bedford Police Union has responded to a scathing report that alleges the department stopped, frisked or questioned Black people at significantly higher rates than white people, calling the reported “slanted” and “prejudiced.”
The report, entitled "We Are the Prey: Racial Profiling and Policing of Youth in New Bedford," was compiled by a youth advocacy group, Citizens for Juvenile Justice. It used data gleaned from nearly 5,000 field report incidents compiled between 2015 and June 2020, obtained from the New Bedford Police Department through a public records request.
The report alleges that while just seven percent of the city’s population identifies as Black, 46 percent of those field incidents involved Black people. The report alleges that 10 officers, mostly with the department's gang unit, were involved in nearly half of those incidents.
“The New Bedford Police Union, representing 240 officers and superior officers who put their lives on the line every day protecting the citizens of New Bedford, is livid about the disparaging and unfounded claims of racial bias on the part of a few officers,” the union posted to its Facebook page. “It is our understanding that the ‘report’...was released to the public without first seeking any response from the NBPU, NBPD or the City of New Bedford and was based on interviews with only five young people from New Bedford.’
The union called the report “slanted and prejudiced reporting” that “continues to feed into radical reactions from some segments of the public and the press.” The union says it is that anti-police sentiment that is causing officers to “question their career choice.”
The union is also calling on Mayor Jon Mitchell and Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro to publicly stand with the rank and file of the New Bedford Police Department.
“We ask that all of our elected officials, including the Mayor’s office and the Department’s administration, to publicly stand with us and denounce this defamatory rhetoric aimed toward the hard-working members of this Union,” the post stated.
In an appearance with WBSM's Barry Richard on Thursday afternoon, City Councilor-at-Large Brian Gomes, chair of the council's Committee on Public Safety and Neighborhoods, said he is filing a motion for next Thursday's city council meeting for the council to officially denounce the report.
"I'm standing with our police department," Gomes said.