As the mayoral preliminary election approaches, some of the six candidates weighed in on what their approach would be to making the city a safer place.
“No one is OK with this and we have one of the most dangerous cities in the country,” Carvalho said.
Carvalho’s assessment of crime in Fall River is correct according to the FBI website NeighborhoodScout, which lists the city as the 42nd most dangerous city in the country.
“How many elderly people in this city are afraid to go out of their homes?” said Carvalho.
If elected mayor, Carvalho said he would first try to tackle the city’s growing drug problem, with heroin being the drug of choice in Fall River.
“I will organize a drug summit and bring all of the local and federal agencies in our community and state together,” Carvalho said. “Let’s all get together in a real partnership and focus on how we can make an impact on this terrible scourge and work collectively to make a difference.”
The criminal community in Fall River “is a bold group,” said Carvalho, and it is important to get people together to lower the crime rate “sooner rather than later.”
Incumbent Mayor Will Flanagan
When he took office in 2009, Mayor Will Flanagan said the complement at the Fall River Police Department was 190 police officers.
Today, Flanagan said he’s raised that number to 225 and is currently working to add eight more police officers to the force.
If re-elected, Flanagan said he will continue to invest in public safety and continue programs like ShotSpotter.
“We’ve seen it as an effective tool for police as they are instantly notified of a shooting and are able to arrive more rapidly to a scene to investigate,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan said he will continue to crack down on absentee landlords in the city where drug trafficking is more prevalent, raise awareness of drug addiction and hold drug dealers more accountable.
Education is another way to battle crime and drug addiction, Flanagan said, adding that he will continue to fully fund the school system and add more programs for youth.
Candidate William Grinvalsky emailed this statement regarding his policy for public safety if he is elected mayor:
“I am already involved with officers on these issues. My plan is to get more help in major crimes division so more raids and problems can be addressed. Police are working hard in all areas and a lot is falling through the cracks. The Sheriff’s office showed a concern a couple years ago in assisting local police in this arena. I would like his office to combine forces with City police and conduct more raids and close in on these Gangs that are infiltrating our City. Not to say the police can’t handle it but a heavier show of enforcement will deter Gangs, drug and criminal activity. In closing more absentee landlords need to be held accountable for their tenants and property.”
If elected mayor, candidate Mike Raposa said one of his first actions would be to change the rank of police chief and deputy police chief to a civil service position and take politics out of the police department.
“Let the police do their job. I want the police chief to have the big thumb to push the button,” Raposa said, “not the mayor.”
Raposa would also fully fund the police department to allow them to purchase the equipment they need and the staffing they require.
Drugs and addiction are also a major problem in the city and Raposa said there needs to be better services for drug addicts.
“Only 1 percent of the people seeking treatment are successful,” Raposa said.
He would also work with the state delegation to strengthen sexual assault laws and raise the age of sexual consent from 16 to 18 years old.
“Older people are targeting our young people and it’s time for a change,” Raposa said.
A change in the law could also lower teen pregnancy that would also lower the high school drop-out rate, Raposa said.
Investing in more crime-fighting technology is one way candidate Joao Costa would like to fight Fall River’s standing as one of the nation’s top 100 dangerous cities.
Costa said he would add 25 new police officers to the Fall River Police Department and have more foot patrols in some of the more dangerous neighborhoods like the Corky Row area and Rodman Street.
“I would bring more jobs to the city,” Costa said, “more jobs means less crowds.”
Note: A statement from Richard Renzi was not received by deadline. The following statement was posted to his campaign Facebook page.
“Candidate Richard Renzi promises a change for the better, assuring more police officers and firefighters- If elected.
“As stated in 2011, Public safety and Education are intrinsic to a City’s existence and that neither should be sacrificed. Cuts must be found else where in the budget at the same time, better service agreements entered into with the local unions.
“Our City needs an adequate Public Safety element and I plan on providing just that, if elected. I have heard the people loud and clear and as a Mayor, it would be my job to give the people what they want providing it is fiscally sound and that the plan to do so, is done in a mannerism where no more borrowing is or was to take place.
“The people want the demand, which warrants the increase and I am sure that both the Office of Mayor and the City Council together can bring to remedy an idea that works.
“Renzi feels that there is nothing that a little bit of communication cannot solve and vows to bring simple solutions to our crime and drug problem here in the City.”
Email Jo C. Goode at [email protected]