On the beat in Newark

Eyewitness News Exclusive
September 11, 2009 10:01:05 PM PDT
Welcome to the streets of Newark at night. It can be extremely dangerous - drug deals, drive by shootings, gang turf wars. This is the real deal, but so are Newark's Gang Intelligence Unit.

The unit is a tight knit group of specialized officers of lieutenants and sergeants.

Their main goal is being pro-active in fighting crime. They target hot spots, known drug and gang areas.

First stop was a housing complex where there was a shooting last week.

Eyewitness News went along for the ride. We watched as two young men were arrested.

Both had warrants out for them. It was only 8:10. The night was just beginning.

Minutes later, a suspicious car took off and the chase was on. By 8:30, the car was surrounded.

"That car ain't stolen. I got insurance and everything," the driver said.

Why did he run?

"The van scared me," he said.

The unit rides in unmarked, everyday vehicles so they can blend in to the most dangerous areas of the city.

At a nearby bodega, six young men, some with cash in every pocket, had alcohol but no drugs. Two admitted to being members of the Bloods gang.

At 10:45 and we headed over to a complex where a gun was found just the night before.

Two not even old enough to drive (the youngest just 14) were holding 30 bottles of crack cocaine.

Sgt. Conzentino thinks he was given the drugs to hold by adult dealers. As a juvenile, he will do less time, but he has so much to lose.

As he's led away, it hits us. This all happened on a playground. Disturbing for the officers. It's always harder when they are dealing with kids.

The unit's director had one promise to those in the city who would deal drugs and shoot someone.

"If you discharge a weapon in the city, you will have my undivided attention," deputy director Gustavo Medina said.

Attention that quickly turned to other arrests that night. Thirteen people in total were taken off the streets, at least for a little while.

But for this unit, even the ride back to the station at the end of the night isn't an easy one.

At 1:45 a.m., it was a chase on foot into an apartment building, up to an apartment, and then a search of the alley out back.

Detective Louis Rivera saw an open basement door. Everyone went in, guns out, but they would find nothing.

"Obviously, he got rid of the stuff. You win some. You lose some," Lt. Jose Gonzalez said.

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