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Paul Oliveira Named Chief of Police in New Bedford

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Daniel Ackerman
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Paul Oliveira spoke at a press conference on Wednesday, following his appointment as New Bedford Chief of Police by Mayor Jon Mitchell.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell announced on Wednesday that Paul Oliveira will be the city’s next Chief of Police. Oliveira, a 30-year veteran of the force, has served as Acting Chief since former Chief Joseph Cordeiro’s retirement on April 24.

Speaking at a press conference at the New Bedford Free Library, Oliveira acknowledged that policing has undergone “dramatic” changes over the course of his career. “Those experiences, good and bad, will now fuel us forward through the next chapter of police reform,” said Oliveira. “We will continue our efforts to modernize, grow and improve.”

Oliveira grew up in New Bedford and has served in the city’s police department for his entire career.

The appointment comes at a time of heightened public scrutiny of policing. An analysis published in April by the advocacy group Citizens for Juvenile Justice found that New Bedford Police officers stopped and questioned young people of color at disproportionately high rates.

LaSella Hall, president of the New Bedford branch of the NAACP, said the group will continue to push for changes in the police department under Oliveira. “Our policies are not based on people or personalities. Our policies are based on the needs of our membership and our community,” said Hall. “Even though the Chief of Police has changed, that doesn’t change our advocacy.” Hall called for the use of police body cameras, a review of the use of excessive force, and the removal of School Resource Officers.

In his remarks, Oliveira provided few specifics on his plans for reforms. He voiced support for the use of body cameras, but said they are too expensive for the department to purchase and maintain.