NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) ─ New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell has made a commitment to take action to improve the relationship between police officers and the community.
Mitchell recently signed on to the Mayor’s Pledge, created by the Obama Foundation, to review the city’s police department policies and make reforms through community feedback.
The pledge is written as follows:
- REVIEW your use of force policies.
- ENGAGE your communities by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and
stories in your review.
- REPORT the findings of your review to your community and seek feedback.
- REFORM your community’s police use of force policies.
“We’ve heard the protesters in the past couple of weeks raising, in my mind, very legitimate concerns about policing in America and while here in New Bedford we’ve made tremendous progress over the years in reducing violent crime on one hand and building trust with the community on the other, we are not perfect,” Mitchell said. “We can get better at what we do so I thought it was an appropriate time to take a closer look at the city’s use of force policies.”
Mitchell has formed the City Council Public Safety Committee, which will ensure the actions outlined in the pledge are carried out. He said the commission will have 60 days to speak with the community and return with recommendations.
“We just want to let people know this is coming and they should be ready with their ideas,” he said. “We want to hear them and we want to be responsive to that in the city. We want people to know that we are trying to get better all the time.”
Mitchell said defunding the police department is not something they are considering, but they do plan to improve the already well-functioning force.
“It’s a constant work in progress and we want to make sure that we are doing everything we can for everyone in our city to feel included and like they have a role to play,” Mitchell said.
On Tuesday, Mitchell also said he supports the adoption of body cameras by the police department as long as funding is secured. Thousands recently signed a petition demanding New Bedford officers wear body cameras while on the job.
New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordiero said he fully supports the mayor’s commitment to the pledge and “looks forward to it with great optimism.”