New Bedford Police Union Prez: Administration Silence ‘Frustrating’
New Bedford Police Union President Hank Turgeon had some very strong words to say about the way Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro and Mayor Jon Mitchell’s administration have handled the shooting of a police officer’s home early last Thursday.
“The silence from our administration has been frustrating,” Turgeon said.
Turgeon called into WBSM’s Barry Richard Wednesday afternoon and argued the claim put forth by Cordeiro on Richard’s Tuesday program that officers were informed of the investigation in a timely manner.
Turgeon said that, yes, there was a BOLO (be on the lookout) put out for the vehicle the suspect who fired eight shots in the officer’s residence was driving, but that there was no information provided to officers at that time regarding the nature of the crime.
“Our members were extremely angry that we weren’t all notified,” Turgeon said. “There was a BOLO, as the chief described it, put out over the terminals, but that was it. A guy at home or a guy on detail or a girl had no idea this was going on, this guy could have left that housing area, went somewhere else, and set up for his next victim.”
“They put out information about a car that was wanted, and that was it,” Turgeon said. “Somebody dropped the ball in chief’s administration, and not sending out an alert to everybody could have cost the life of a police officer.”
Turgeon said the police union has sent a recommendation to the chief about how he can better inform the members of the department of a situation like this in the future.
“He could use an app we all have on our phones for details and overtime, that can send a push notification that would go straight through to every officer’s phone,” he said. “We sent that to the chief, but we haven’t heard back. Hopefully, the chief heeds our recommendation.”
Earlier in the program, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell had called in for his weekly segment, and when asked about the way the information was disseminated regarding the shooting, Mitchell said he agreed with how Cordeiro handled the situation.
“If there was a clear and present threat to public safety, we would get the information out there, or at least he would, and say ‘you need to be on the lookout.’ We don’t hesitate when there is a clear and present danger to any neighborhood or the whole city, we don’t hesitate to get out there and be public about it,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said that in his 11 years as a federal prosecutor, he learned a variety of ways in which criminals could take advantage of information about an investigation being made public. He said because the determination was made that the public was not at risk, it was more important to preserve the integrity of the investigation.
“I get it, people want to know stuff right away, but that may not be in the public interest,” he said. “Ultimately it will come to light, but it may not be in that moment.”
Turgeon wasn’t buying the idea that there was no further risk.
“When the mayor tells you the reason why they didn’t put it out to the public, didn’t do a press release, was because they thought it was safe, I don’t know how anybody could think that,” he said. “This guy is still out there, he’s still a threat. Who deemed that to not be a threat?”
From there, Turgeon vented his frustrations not just with the situation, but with the way the Mitchell Administration and Chief Cordeiro have handled working with the media in getting the word out about crime.
“The chief said (in his interview with Richard) that he wants to have coffee with you so that the press releases can get out to you faster,” Turgeon said. “That’s only so he can control the information you’re putting out.”
“This mayor purposely hired a civilian public information officer so that he could sugarcoat the crimes,” Turgeon said. “Tell the public crime is happening, let them be worried about it, let them be on alert and secure their property...But they sugarcoat the statistics and don’t tell the citizens, the neighborhoods, that there is crime, that everything is hunky-dory.”
“And I know why. They want tourism,” he said. “They want the tourists to come in.”
Turgeon pointed to a November 27 incident in which a gunman opened fire in the area of Penniman Street, killing one man and critically injuring another while also firing at police officers.
“(The administration) were all quiet about that, they didn’t go above and beyond, and that was national news,” Turgeon said. “We got very little from this administration.”
And although Turgeon said the officer whose home was targeted last Thursday is “standing tall,” he also said it’s “not just about one police officer.”
“This is an attack on the backbone of our society,” he said. “The thin blue line between calm and chaos, someone decided to shoot eight holes through that, and this administration has been very quiet about that.”
“Something bad that comes up that they don’t want to face, they just ignore (the media),” Turgeon said. “They think ‘if I can go a news cycle or two without responding to it, then they’ll let it go.’”