New Bedford Police Union ‘Cautioned’ By Department Administration About Social Media Posts
NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — The New Bedford Police Union is saying it has been “cautioned” by the administration of the department about the information it has posted to its Facebook page regarding crimes in the city.
“The New Bedford Police Union has been cautioned by the administration of the New Bedford Police Department against releasing information with regard to major incidents,” the union posted to its Facebook page Wednesday afternoon.
The union also lamented in its Facebook post that it is “not meant to be the source of breaking news,” and that this information should be provided to the public in a timely manner by the police administration.
Police Union President Lt. Evan Bielski appeared Wednesday evening on WBSM’s SouthCoast Tonight to offer more insight.
“Like the posting says, we’ve been trying to just get facts up there to keep everyone up to date about what’s happening in the city and what’s happening in the police department,” Bielski said. “We were cautioned about leaking information about incidents that are happening, and that we need to be careful.”
Bielski said the caution was mostly about posting incidents on weekends, which he said the union has been doing because there can be a delay in getting logs posted to the police website, especially on weekends.
“It was more geared toward over-the-weekend stuff that might not be released by the department on time because it’s the weekend,” he said. “We’re just throwing it out there that we have to kind of wait for the department to release something for us to be able to put it out there.”
“We were cautioned, ‘hey it hasn’t been released by the department yet so you really shouldn’t be doing it,” Bielski said.
Bielski pointed out that the union has followed laws and policies about what can be shared in the Facebook posts.
“We’re not releasing names, mentioning juveniles, anything domestic violence-related, sex crime-related. We’re not releasing any of that stuff,” he said. “We’re just trying to release the crimes that affect the citizens, that’s happening in the neighborhoods of the city. We’re trying not to hide anything. This is stuff people should know.”
“We’re keeping the posts very simple, for a number of reasons, but the main reason is we’re trying not to jeopardize any investigations. We’re just releasing minimal information, that this incident happened in this location,” Bielski said.
While the police union Facebook page has been used as of late to share information about the exodus of police officers to neighboring communities and highlight staffing shortages on a particular day, it has also been posting information about crimes.
As part of its post about the administration “cautioning” them, the union pointed out five incidents of violent crime that had happened in just the past five days, with three on one day and two on another. On April 14, there was a stabbing on Rockdale Avenue, an armed robbery on Nauset Street, and an incident of shots fired on Grinnell Street and Pleasant Street.
On April 18, there was a shooting at Chancery Street and Elm Street that injured a city juvenile, and a stabbing at County Street and Katherine Street.
Earlier this month, the union shared details of a shots fired incident in the area of Griffin Court on April 4, as well as an armed robbery on Hathaway Street the same day.
“There’s no need to try to hide it or not report it. It happens. I don’t know what the big deal is in just getting it out. I think we can use it in a way to benefit us,” Bielski said. “We’ve seen other police departments post about ‘can anyone identify this suspect.’ Social media can be used in a way to benefit us with crime.”
WBSM’s Marcus Ferro reached out to the New Bedford Police Department for a statement from Chief Paul Oliveira. We will update this story if that becomes available.