Bloomfield Councilman Michael Venezia had a wild Saturday night.
Memorable episodes ranged from a suspected carjacking to an emergency childbirth.
Venezia spent the night in a police cruiser with Bloomfield Police Sergeant Nick Polidoro. In a ride-along lasting from 9 p.m. to 2:45 a.m., the local official got to experience first hand a busy weekend night in Bloomfield.
Venezia said that at the 9:15 police roll call meeting that kicked off the night, officers were warned that Newark had seen four car-jackings that night. Venezia said that while patrolling the East Orange and Newark borders on a night with a high amount of foot traffic and out-of-town vehicles passing through, Polidoro kept his eyes peeled for signs of the stolen cars.
While they were looking out for stolen cars, they ran into an eminent birth. Early in the night, a nervous couple pulled over on the side of the road signaled for the cruiser’s attention.
“We were driving down Ampere Parkway,” Venezia said. “A guy started flagging us down. He said wife’s water broke on the way to hospital.”
The wife was lying down in the back seat of the car, experiencing contractions. They called for medical assistance and an ambulance brought the couple to Clara Maass Medical Center.
Other episodes that night included breaking up a 100 person-plus house party, a situation that required four officers to handle due to the number of people involved.
Venezia said the idea for the ride-along came during contract talks with police union representatives.
“During the recent PBA negotiations a couple of guys in the PBA said it wouldn’t be a bad experience to do a ride-along,” Venezia said. “Three years on the council I never considered it.”
He said he learned a lot sitting among the rank and file of the force, particularly that new technology could streamline tasks for police. He said he’d like members of the department to have e-ticket machines to enable officers to type up tickets instead of writing them out. Also, he said he was interested in speech recognition technology that would allow officers to read out license plates instead of having to type in the information.
Venezia said he was interested in further ride-alongs, particularly during the winter or on weeknights to contrast his first experience.