New Bedford flags ordered half-staff following death of police chief
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. —
The New Bedford Police Department was draped in black Monday, as members of the department placed wreaths on the building.
They were remembering their chief, David Provencher, a throat cancer survivor who passed away Sunday evening.
Mayor Jon Mitchell said Provencher died Sunday evening at St. Luke's Hospital from respiratory arrest. He called his death sudden and unexpected.
"The city last night lost an outstanding police chief and a terrific individual," said Mitchell.
At a press conference Monday, Mitchell talked about losing a public servant, but also a friend.
"The job isn't just about toughness and locking people up, it's about being a guardian of the community and that's exactly the way Dave saw it," said Mitchell, adding "he was funny, but totally devoted to his job in the most serious of ways."
NBC 10 News spoke with leaders of several community groups, who praised Provencher's style of policing as inclusive.
"Many people were impacted by his decision to be a welcoming chief of police to ensure that immigrants would feel comfortable stepping forward to report a crime," said Corinn Williams, executive director of the Community Economic Development Center.
"Whether it was working together on a gang prevention grant, to working on the opioid overdose crisis, he was always a leader," said Carl Alves, executive director of Positive Action Against Chemical Addiction.
"He would bring people together. He would expect people to work together, and that was the big thing; there was an expectation," said Reverend David Lima of the Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford. "He would listen to you if you were sitting at the table to help create the solution."
Provencher served with the New Bedford Police Department for 35 years. He was sworn in as chief in April 2011.
"He walked the streets of New Bedford. He wasn't a chief that hid behind a desk," said City Council President Brian Gomes. "When there was something wrong, you called him. You got immediate action."
Mitchell said he would wait until after Provencher's funeral services to appoint an acting chief.
As of Monday evening, arrangements for Provencher had not been finalized.
All flags in New Bedford were ordered to fly at half-staff Monday.