NEW BEDFORD — With the homicide count up to eight, neighborhood leaders say they want to see city leaders and law enforcement be more proactive.

"The signs are there that we need more cops on the streets,” said Jerry Pinto, head of Neighborhoods United, the umbrella group for all the neighborhood organizations in New Bedford. “It's just a matter of time before a person is struck with a stray bullet and loses their life."

Councilor Debora Coelho, who leads the council’s committee on public safety, said she has confidence in police, firefighters and first responders, adding that many of the homicides have been drug-related.

"The police have been very proactive," she said, pointing out that police have made many drug, gun, prostitution and quality-of-life arrests.

Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro said police have seized 61 illegal guns this year, and that he takes the homicides personally. New Bedford had three last year and that was "too many." And eight is "way, way too many."

Programs where officers get out of their cruisers and interact with the public go to the heart of community policing and help build relations, he said. However, more work needs to be done on the preventative side in the areas of drugs, guns and domestic violence to bring the city's homicide rate to zero.

Ken Resendes, head of the Bullard Street Neighborhood Association, agrees more needs to be done beyond the walkabouts.

"You need more police on the streets,” he said. “That's the bottom line.”

In Fiscal Year 2018, the department budgeted for 265 officers, up from 253, the chief said during budget hearings in May.

Cordeiro said he has plans to revamp how the department fights crime, but he wasn’t ready to get into the details Tuesday. The new procedures will be released in the coming weeks.