‘I’m trying to warn him ahead of time’: New Bedford councilor urges mayor to reconsider shuttering downtown police station

SE Mass

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) ─ New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell is planning on closing the city’s downtown police station, but one city councilor argues now is not the time.

The police station, which is located on Pleasant Street, is less than two miles from the New Bedford Police Department’s headquarters.

New Bedford City Councilor-at-large Brian Gomes, who’s served as the council’s public safety chair for nearly three decades, tells 12 News the city has shut down the station in the past, and the outcome wasn’t good.

“The repercussions of that were awful,” Gomes said. “At night, stores were being broken into … I don’t want to see a reoccurrence of that.”

Gomes believes the Mitchell wants to close the downtown station because of the city’s tight budget, which he argues isn’t right.

“As an administrator, you must find that money to protect the people of the city, and this business district,” Gomes said.

A city spokesperson tells 12 News Mitchell’s decision was based off of an independent strategic review performed by the New Bedford Police Department in 2017.

The findings of that review revealed scarecrow policing only pushes crime away from the station itself, and not the entire area.

In a statement to 12 News, Mitchell said New Bedford is one of two cities, the other being Boston, that still utilizes full-time district stations.

“New Bedford has experienced a nearly 40% decline in violent crime in the last six years, in part, because we now rely on crime data to determine when and where police should be positioned,” Mitchell said.

Gomes has filed a motion urging Mitchell to reverse his decision to close the station, which will be discussed at Thursday night’s New Bedford City Council meeting.

“I hope the message gets to the mayor, I’m trying to warn him ahead of time,” Gomes said. “The closing of this station would be detrimental to the downtown area.”

The city doesn’t have an exact date for the station’s closure, but said it should happen later this summer.

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