An inside look at the Bronx warrant squad

February 28, 2011 8:16:30 PM PST
Eyewitness News takes you behind the scenes with the Bronx warrant squad.

They are an elite team of parole officers whose job every day is to track down fugitive felons on the run.

It is a job filled with drama and danger.

They operate in a world of urgent whispers and silent signals, because every sound and every movement could be the difference between life and death.

"Nothing is ever routine. Anything can happen if you drop your guards," the officer said, "Whoever says they're not nervous and they're not scared, they have got to be crazy."

Welcome to the world of the Warrant squad.

While most of us are sleeping, this elite team of state parole officers is well into their day, tracking their targets.

Every day brings new drama.

"I'm going to lock up your mom and dad too," an agent said.

Every door is an unknown in this hunt for felon fugitives on the run.

The danger is real, all the time, which is why some officers didn't want us to show their faces. "You want to use the element of surprise," said a member of the Warrant squad.

The team moves with stealth like precision, watching and listening to see if the target is home.

These parolees have all been in prison at least once, so they know they'll be going back.

Many of the thousands wanted by parole have committed new crimes.

"These guys not only got a domestic violence but robbery and burglary 2 so the guy is violent from the jump," said the officer.

The team often relies on tips.

"The tip says apartment seven, second floor," the officer said.

But tips often don't pan out.

"It's not a perfect science," said an officer.

"Criminal possession of a weapon, he's been arrested for assaulting a police officer," the agent said.

During this hit, the squad doesn't get their man, but they do get a sneaker full of drugs stashed on a windowsill that one of the officers saw while covering the alley.

"You guys better tell us whose drugs that is," the officer said.

"If you don't open the door, I'm going to call the cops," a woman said.

"We are the cops," the officer said.

The woman inside goes on a rant, but then agrees to give up her wanted boyfriend.

"Now she's given us a location," the officer said.

Two days later, the boyfriend was under arrest.

"He's got to be in one of these buildings," an officer said.

We literally opened an elevator door into this parolee's in a hallway. Fortunately, he froze.

"Some guys are good at running, some are dumb," an officer said.

"Some of them run and hide, we'll find them eventually," another officer said.

"This is a relief?" asked Eyewitness News reporter Sarah Wallace.

"Yeah, I was out there doing the wrong thing, getting high doing drugs," the parolee said.

But they don't always come easily.

"We know we risk our lives every day, but the job's got to get done," the officer said.

"We've all been hurt," an agent said, "It's a dangerous job. You need an angel on your shoulder all the time."