As I have traveled throughout the neighborhoods of New Bedford, I have become more and more convinced that the number one issue facing our City, and on the minds of the voters is the sense of lawlessness that exists in the neighborhoods and the soaring crime rate that our citizens are subject to. Mayor Kalisz’s reaction to his own police department’s statistics which show crime increasing 17% for the first 7 months of 2005 over the same period for 2004, shows his indifference to the personal safety crisis of the citizens of New Bedford are facing in the neighborhoods. His cavalier attitude goes to the very nature of the failure of his administration to provide protection and personal safety for New Bedford’s citizens. Mayor Kalisz stating that I was attempting to “misrepresent the crime statistics, by including larceny which is a non-violent property crime” illustrates his complete lack of understanding of the nature of lawlessness. The categories of crime which are reported by the City to the State and Federal government, include murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft. Violent crime in New Bedford has increased dramatically since 2004. The murder rate has increased from 3 to 6 in the relevant period. Overall serious crimes have increased by over 17%. These are the incident numbers the Police Department reports to the State and Federal Government on behalf of the City of New Bedford. The statistics are real. Each one is a document of a serious crime incident involving people or families. For the Mayor to imply that some crime is basically okay, but other crime is not, shows a lack of respect for the victims of crime and leads to the very heart of the feeling of lawlessness in New Bedford. If I am elected Mayor, I will adopt a zero tolerance policy; no incident of crime will be considered permissible. All crime will be prohibited and the police will protect the public from incidents of all crime.
The New Bedford Police Department faces a lack of leadership from the Mayor’s office and the Chief of Police. For example, on a regular basis the Mayor calls the front desk at the police station to order police cars to different locations in the City, bypassing the Chief, and without the input of any police personnel. In addition, the tools supplied to the Police are woefully inadequate and are a breach of the fiduciary responsibility that the Mayor’s office and the Chief has to the police officers and to each and every citizen in our City. For the past several months, the police cars in the City of New Bedford have been equipped with laptops that are not capable of communicating with the New Bedford police station, other than as a basic dispatch function. The laptops cannot communicate with State, Federal or international law enforcement agencies. Due to a software problem, our Police cruisers have been flying blind – the equivalent of sending your Air Force pilots out on missions without radar. Whenever a police stop is made, a call is placed to headquarters for information; this presents a delay and an extraordinarily dangerous situation for the police officers in the street. The police officers are not readily able to identify information on motor vehicles or individuals. Needless to say, this is crucial information they need in the field without any delay. The Mayor and the Chief are responsible for selecting a software company that has been unable to provide the City with the software to link New Bedford police officers to the 21st Century. As a result of this, the police cars lack the latest technology to fight crime.
In sum, the Mayor does not understand the significance of the crime statistics that his own Police department has prepared for state and federal government. He does not provide the leadership to provide a strategy which will fight crime successfully. He does not provide our police with the latest technology to fight crime.
In a nutshell, the Mayor’s failed leadership is why New Bedford’s crime rate is soaring. We have a Mayor who does not understanding law enforcement or public safety. This is the root of our inability to turn the tide on our crime problem.