New Bedford police chief remembered at community service

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — New Bedford’s police chief was remembered Sunday during a public memorial service.

Mourners called Chief David Provencher a forward-thinking, humble leader who was highly respected by his fellow officers.

Chief Provencher served on the Whaling City’s police force for 35 years. He passed away last week at the age of 59 and was laid to rest on Saturday.

Mayor Jon Mitchell praised Provencher’s leadership during the service at the city’s Zyterion Theater.

“Dave Provencher was an outstanding police chief,” he said. “We’ve heard a chorus of praise of his leadership, his compassion, his intelligence, and his professionalism. It has the added virtue of being entirely true.”

Dave Lizotte said he was sworn in as deputy chief the same day Provencher took the oath as the department’s top officer back in 2011. Lizotte said he was overwhelmed by the job at first, but Provencher was always calm and collected.

“We would meet for coffee every morning and discuss issues from the previous evening,” he said. “You often hear sportscasters talk about lead quarterbacks in the league. They have the ability to slow things down. That’s what the chief could do.”

During the service, Mayor Mitchell spoke about recent police-public tension in other states and abuse of police power. According to Mitchell, Provencher was always concerned about tone and perception.

“He said to me that the problem in many cities is that police see themselves as warriors pitted against criminals,” he said. “In contrast, Dave instilled that our officers are guardians of the community.”

Provencher passed away at Saint Luke’s Hospital after battling cancer.

“The department and the community are very fortunate to have had him for the past 35 years,” Mitchell said. “He will be dearly missed, but certainly not forgotten.”

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