Only in New Bedford could the police headquarters be located in a former supermarket. No kidding! I intend that as good-naturing ribbing, but still.

The New Bedford Police Department Headquarters is at 871 Rockdale Avenue, the former home of Fernandes Supermarket.

"Blue light special on aisle 4!"

There are currently two other operational police stations in New Bedford. Police Station 3 at 781 Ashley Boulevard opened in 1965. The South Public Safety Center at 910 Brock Avenue opened in August 2021.

New Bedford Police Officers Used To Be Called Watchmen
Courtesy Spinner Publications
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The opening of the South Public Safety Center allowed for the closing of Station 2 at 168 Cove Street and the station at 572 Pleasant Street in downtown New Bedford.

New Bedford Police Chief Paul Oliveira said the department has a complement of 205 officers and has "about ten in the academy." Hiring and retention of police officers is a problem all over, not just in New Bedford.

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A complement of 205 officers might seem small by today's standards. But in 1794, when the first "organized police force" was established to protect against theft, 205 men would have seemed like an army.

According to the New Bedford Police Department's website, a handful of men called Watchmen "protected businesses and gardens." The group was known as the Bedford Associates.

New Bedford Police Officers Used To Be Called Watchmen
Courtesy New Bedford Police Department
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As the City of New Bedford grew, there was a need for more policing, and in 1824, the Bedford Association became the Night Watchmen. Newbedfordpd.com says, "Their primary focus became preventing robberies in the businesses."

In 1847, when the village of New Bedford was incorporated, the Night Watch became constables under the leadership of Henry Hathaway.

In 1876, the New Bedford Police Department was officially formed. Hathaway was the first Chief of Police. The department consisted of 26 regular officers and 83 part-time officers.

A Trip Back in Time With New Bedford's WBSM

WBSM-AM began on Pope's Island in New Bedford, before moving downtown and finally settling into Sconticut Plaza in Fairhaven. Take a trip back in time from WBSM's early days to today, and if you have any vintage WBSM photos, send them into us at tim@wbsm.com and we'll add them to this gallery.

Gallery Credit: Tim Weisberg

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Gallery Credit: Tim Weisberg

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