NEW BEDFORD — The head of New Bedford’s police union has responded to a video posted by New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro earlier on Saturday, in which Cordeiro wished to “talk about transparency” but which New Bedford Police Union President Hank Turgeon says “is just one more scripted political ad on the New Bedford Police Department Facebook page, or commonly known around the police department as the Chief Joseph Cordeiro Facebook page.”

Turgeon’s letter, which was provided to WBSM in advance of being posted to the union's Facebook page, questions Cordeiro’s sincerity in all the topics Cordeiro covered in his video: the availability of incident logs for the public and the media, the chief’s relationship with the media and with the members of the New Bedford City Council, crime statistics for the city, a recent shooting in broad daylight on Rockdale Avenue, and the shooting of a police officer’s home in the Brickenwood development.

“The recent social media post from Chief Cordeiro regarding the lack of public safety information from the NBPD is nothing more than what I believe to be a political ad composed by him and his personal publicist,” Turgeon began the letter.

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In regards to the Brickenwood incident, Cordeiro stated in his video that he initiated an inquiry “as to see what we did and how we performed on that incident. As Turgeon had stated previously on WBSM, officers were concerned that they had not been properly notified that an armed suspect was still at large and had apparently targeted one of their own.

In his video, Cordeiro seemed to backtrack again on his previous statement that there was no BOLO radio call, but rather a terminal message – not only going back to his original stance that there was a BOLO call put out over police radios, but also playing the audio from that call as part of the video.

Turgeon said in his response letter that the “vague radio BOLO” was not sufficient notification to the officers.

“Even after the chief was questioned on some possible flaws on the reporting and the notifications, he still refuses to admit that there were some deficiencies in notifying his police officers and the public of the potential danger,” Turgeon wrote. “Now weeks later he notes an MDT BOLO that only went to one terminal, yes one computer, and a vague radio BOLO that all the officers I have spoken to do not recall hearing.”

Cordeiro said in the video that he “couldn't be prouder” of the work police and civilian workers had done in response to the incident, “and never did they put, or their actions put, the safety of our officers, of our public (in jeopardy).” But Turgeon claims that is just the chief “deflecting” and still hasn’t addressed the union’s recommendation to notify officers in the future of a threat against their own by using the private app officers use for scheduling details.

“The NB Police Union is not questioning what the police officers and civilians did at the start of the investigation, but the fact that when the union suggested ways to protect police officers and the public in the future, he failed to put anything into place or acknowledge that it was even an issue, he just defends himself by deflecting or pointing elsewhere,” Turgeon wrote.

Among the other issues addressed in the letter, Turgeon wondered why it took questioning from the media and the city council for Cordeiro to launch a review of the past five years of data from ShotSpotter, the city’s acoustic gunshot detection program, which has been questioned as of late because its failure to detect gunshots during recent incidents of shots fired, such as the Brickenwood incident.

“The men and women of the New Bedford Police Union do believe that this is an incredible tool to have available to us when it is working properly,” Turgeon wrote. ”It’s just wrong that it takes public scrutiny from the media and city councilors to get the chief motivated to try to fix it.”

“Wait until the chief must tell the city council why the city cameras are failing the public as well,” he wrote.

In his video, Cordeiro used FBI crime reporting figures to state that crime is down 42 percent in the five years since he was sworn in as police chief, but Turgeon seems to indicate he’s not buying into those numbers.

“According to the FBI report, crime is down over the past five years, however, the police budget shows an increase in calls that the New Bedford Police respond to,” he wrote. “So apparently something is wrong with the number of calls and the reporting to FBI. Perception is not always reality.”

Turgeon ended his letter by invoking Mayor Jon Mitchell, who stood by Cordeiro when the union asked for his removal as chief in December of 2019 and has said in the past that the union’s complaints about Cordeiro are “tactics” used in contract negotiations.

“The union has brought our concerns and grievances to the mayor for several years, however, he has refused to listen. Instead, he will make statements regarding this being a bargaining tool used against the city,” Turgeon wrote. “This is just another example of deflecting the truth. The city continues to lose good men and women, both sworn officers and civilians, to the surrounding communities. The taxpayers of New Bedford have paid and trained these men and women only to lose them due to a toxic work environment.”

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