By: Chloe Leshner

cleshner@abc6.com

@cleshnerabc6

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WLNE) -- After three murders in just the past week, New Bedford's murder rate is now the worst it's been in more than a decade. City leaders are laying at least some of the blame on the judicial system.

It's an alarming reality in New Bedford neighborhoods, the highest homicide rate the city has seen in  over a decade.

"We've had this spike lately and we have to deal with it," says Mayor Jon Mitchell.

One way to deal with it, taking a look at the court system.

"It's happened time and time again where people with a track record of dangerous crimes have been out on little or no bail and have gone right back out and done something again almost immediately," says Mayor Mitchell.

The city has already made adjustments in the police department but Mayor Mitchell says they need to work with the courts and District Attorney's Office to ensure judges know the impact these criminals have on the community.

"Dangerous people should be taken off the street bottom line and we're not seeing enough of that so that's a matter we're going to sensitize judges to," says Mitchell.

And with next year's mayoral election quickly approaching, crime in the city is a hot topic for the candidate running against incumbent Mitchell, New Bedford police officer Charlie Perry. He agrees that the judicial system plays a role. 

"A tap on the wrist, soft on justice. The DA's office has been presenting a lot of good cases that go forward into the court system so when we get lenient on the sentencing, they're back on the street doing the same old thing," says Perry.

We reached out to the Bristol County District Attorney for his reaction to the Mayor's assessment, he said he had no comment and wasn't going to get involved in politics.

Meanwhile, police are adding cameras to the north end of the city where they say the worst of the crime is happening.

(C) WLNE/ABC 6 2017