By Linda Roy of the Standard Times
NEW BEDFORD — “It takes more courage than ever to wear this badge,” was one of the first statements Police Chief Paul Oliveira made this summer when he took over the reins of the New Bedford Police Department.
He replaced Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro, who retired in April.
Set to begin his first full year as chief, Oliveira is looking toward 2022 “filled with optimism.”
“During the upcoming year, I want to double-down on our efforts to connect with the most marginalized residents of our community. The department is moving forward with a program designed to bridge the gap between police, and our Mayan immigrant population,” he told the Standard-Times by email.
“For far too long now, their apprehensiveness towards police and lack of experience in a new culture has made them attractive targets for those who would prey upon and exploit those weaknesses,” he said.
One step toward that goal is the appointment of two Spanish-speaking officers.
“We will also continue to expand our outreach initiatives aimed towards assisting the homeless, the mentally ill and those who struggle with addiction,” he said. “This department stands ready to protect the most vulnerable of our community.”
Recruiting new officers into the department is also a goal the chief said looms in 2022, noting police staffing struggles nationwide.
“We will have a fresh set of eyes looking at the staffing problem and I look forward to working with our training division on new ideas for ushering in the next generation of New Bedford police officers,” he said.
Shakeups within the police union is also something Oliveira says will be facing the department heading into the new year.
“The New Bedford police union will be operating under new leadership, and another priority of mine will be to establish a solid foundation of trust and communication upon which we can build as we move forward into the future,” he said referring to the union president, vice president, treasurer and shop steward are vacating their positions in the union.
“I’m filled with optimism for 2022 and I’m appreciative of all the support I’ve received from the citizens as well as the rank and file of the department,” he said.
“This is a venerable institution filled with dedicated men and women who selflessly serve the needs of this great community. For them, I am truly grateful,” he said.