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New Bedford readying crime-fighting initiatives for long, hot summer

July 05, 2016

NEW BEDFORD — Working behind the scenes, Police Chief Joseph C. Cordeiro and his command staff are ready to begin rolling-out a series of crime-fighting initiatives to stop violence before it happens during the long, hot summer when crime traditionally spikes.

The initiatives emphasize working with as many federal, state and local law enforcement partners as possible; revising crime data information and sharing that information within and outside the department; and finally tweaking ShotSpotter, the city's acoustic gunshot detection system and making that information more available.

The initiatives follow a series of meetings Cordeiro has held with federal officials, his command staff and local neighborhood groups in New Bedford since his appointment as chief in May. Some are a work in progress, he made clear, saying he has not had the time to meet with everyone.

"Intel (intelligence) is our biggest commodity. The more intel, the more effective we can be," Cordeiro said in an interview at police headquarters.

The roll-out also coincides with New Bedford's first homicide of 2016 — 19-year-old Sabrina DaSilva, who is a mother of a small child, and was shot and killed Sunday night in the parking lot of Verdean Gardens apartments, 9 Bedford St., where she lives with her daughter and mother.

The New Bedford Police Department's narcotics unit, the Organized Crime Intelligence Bureau, will be working with the U.S. Department of Drug Enforcement to do more long-term and short-term investigations, or "street sweeping" as the chief called it, in one of the initiatives, he said.

"We will be using our federal partners more. You will see a lot more of that happening," he said.

The joint federal-local drug operations follow meetings Cordeiro has had with two high-ranking DEA officials.

Cordeiro said he will be reaching out and seeking similar relationships with other federal agencies, including Homeland Security and Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well as state police. He said he also will be seeking to strengthen the working relationships with local chiefs of police and wants to share "personnel, intelligence and equipment" with them.

He has assigned a detective from the department's Gang Unit to be the NBPD's intelligence officer to gather data on "gangs, guns, impact players" and prepare reports for department use and other law enforcement agencies.

"A lot of these people are fluid. They go in and out of the city. We don't care who catches them. We just want them off the streets," Cordeiro said.

The department intends to generate crime analysis data in a quicker fashion to stay on top of "crime trends" and then deploy resources through the three station commanders to attack problems, he said.

Cordeiro said he has met with representatives from ShotSpotter, and now "shots-fired" alerts will be sent to the individual cruisers instead of just central dispatch. He said the department is also considering sharing alerts about shots-fired incidents with neighboring police departments.

The department intends to have its crime analyst review ShotSpotter data to develop peak times and locations when shootings occur and possibly move some surveillance cameras to those locations, he said.

The chief said he has met with leaders of the city's faith-based community about possibly helping each other by reaching out to young people over the next two months as a preventive measure.

He said he has attended as many neighborhood meetings as possible in an effort to get his message across that New Bedford is a "City of One," and everyone has to be invested in public safety and make a contribition.

"Perception is one of our biggest roadblocks," he said. "People are afraid to talk (cooperate wth police), go out," he said.

But the perception is not the reality, he said. Crime in New Bedford is down.

"I'm hoping we have a great summer. I have great faith in the men and women in this department. They are incredible. I have faith that the community police strategies wil start to have a preventative effect," he said.

South Coast Today - New Bedford