NEW BEDFORD— The city’s crime rate (combined total of violent and property crimes) dropped 38% in New Bedford between 2011 and 2019, according to FBI data with the trend set to continue in 2020. The NBPD has already submitted preliminary crime data from 2020 to the FBI; once formally recorded by the FBI, the rate is expected to decline further in 2020.
The violent and property crimes category includes murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson. These eight crimes serve as a common indicator of the nation’s crime experience because of their seriousness and frequency of occurrence.
Decline in Violent Crimes
Overall, violent crime has decreased 43% between 2011 and 2019; aggravated assaults are down 48%. Once 2020 data is confirmed, those numbers are expected to decline even further. New Bedford’s homicide rate has remained at 4 homicides on average over the past decade, lower when compared to similar sized cities in New England.
Decline in Property Crimes
Property crime has also decreased significantly in the past decade, by 37%.
A dramatic decline can also be seen in burglary and breaking and entering, which plummeted 52% from 969 crimes in 2011 to 465 crimes in 2019. Larceny theft has been cut almost in half from 2020 incidents in 2011 to 1,513 in 2019.
This does not include the 2020 figures, which are lower still, a trend that runs counter to the sharp increase in violent crime experienced by many cities during the pandemic.
Declining Trend Clear Over Past Decade
Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro said that the declining trend in crime figures, submitted annually to the FBI, has been clear since 2015 – and violent crime decreased on average, with 3 homicides in 2020 in New Bedford, in contrast to national trends including rising homicide rates recently reported in The New York Times. The Chief said that innovative and strategic approaches for combatting crime and enforcing the practices of community policing have fueled the changes in the past five years.
“None of this can happen without the exceptional commitment of the men and women of this department who serve this city. We can bring all of the strategies to the table, but without their dedication and skill we cannot succeed,” said Cordeiro. “Each one of them is responsible for this dramatic shift.”
“We have intentionally focused on building partnerships across the city and with every member of our community,” he explained. The term “we’re in this together” applied to New Bedford long before the pandemic. “We are truly a city of one,” he said. Using a data-driven strategy to identify crime trends has enabled the department to develop and implement more than a dozen programs that have collectively moved the needle in the right direction during the past five years.
“We have patrol officers working in concert with clinicians, health service providers, landlords, and business owners to help resolve problems. We consistently address the root cause of issues that are arising in the community. It makes a huge difference when we connect with the community,” he said.
The decline in overall crime incidents means “we are doing our jobs and New Bedford is safer than ever.” To continue on this trajectory, Cordeiro added, core strategies such as community policing, relationship building, and being a data driven police department working with property owners and holding absentee landlords accountable will ensure we continue improving the well-being of our neighborhoods.
Aside from that, Cordeiro added, we will continue seeking support of the courts to hold the violent criminals accountable.
In the past five years, the NBPD has undergone significant reorganization to ensure a more efficient and modern way of policing. “We are dedicated to continuing to implement effective reforms to ensure these trends,” Cordeiro said.
Mayor Jon Mitchell, a former federal prosecutor, said, “We have worked diligently and strategically to make New Bedford a safer city, and our progress these last few years has exceeded even our lofty expectations. The decline in crime in New Bedford has been among the sharpest for center cities nationally. It is a testament to Chief Cordeiro’s leadership, his emphasis on community policing, data-driven patrolling, the department’s focus on impact players, and the dedication of street outreach teams. It as been greatly aided by our modified ‘broken windows’ approach to code enforcement, in which our Neighborhood Task Force and other City departments have eradicated graffiti litter, and other blight that are the seeds of criminal activity. The falling crime rate has laid the foundation for more economic growth and a higher quality of life for our residents.”