Leaders of the New Bedford Police Union recently issued a vote opposing Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro’s leadership. Not only is the organization — representing law enforcement professionals in New Bedford, Massachusetts — upset that officers have been working without a contract since June 2018, but the union claims the chief and department failed to deliver bulletproof vests.
Union president Hank Turgeon confirmed to The Standard-Times that the most recently ratified contract expressly stipulated the department would purchase vests for officers if it received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Bulletproof Vest Partnership. More than 180 Massachusetts law enforcement agencies received funds, but the New Bedford Police Department was not among them.
Turgeon told the newspaper that officers shouldn’t have to pay for their own bulletproof vests because they are cost prohibitive. Officers are only given a $1,000 clothing allowance each year, and vests, which last for five years, cost anywhere between $800 and $1,500 depending on the model. If officers had to pay for their vests, they would have little to no money left over to pay for their uniforms, which are costly. Pants cost $120, shirts $80 to $110, boots $120 and a rain coat with winter liner $400, according to Turgeon.
Instead, Turgeon pointed to the department’s spending on new vehicles for the chief as well as paying for his international trips and “luxurious lifestyle.” The mayor’s spokesperson told the newspaper that those costs were never slated to come from the Partnership grant.
However, Turgeon did express satisfaction with the department’s purchase of active-shooter kits for cruisers.
“From a union standpoint, we’re extremely happy that the mayor and chief did see the importance of these and purchased them,” he told reporters.