LAWRENCE — Local police, aided by state troopers and sheriff's officers, made more than 150 arrests over the weekend in specialized "impact patrols" across the city.
"We had a lot of bodies out there and really set the tone for the weekend," said Lawrence Police Lt. Jay Cerullo, who was involved in the enforcement along with state troopers assigned to a local Community Action Team, the Essex County Sheriff's Department and NEMLEC, a regional law enforcement group.
The patrols started Thursday, running from about 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. throughout the weekend.
Cerullo said the majority of the arrests were for outstanding warrants and traffic offenses, including red light and stop sign violations, speeding, driving without a license, and driving uninspected and unregistered vehicles.
"The total for the weekend was 154 arrests," said Cerullo, noting the vast majority of those charged were not held on high bail after booking.
"Most of them were routine, minor offenses," he said.
The increase in officers throughout the downtown coincided with the Semana Hispana celebration on the Campagnone Common and a busy weekend at area clubs. Cerullo said no issues at Semana Hispana or nightclubs were reported over the weekend.
On Thursday, state troopers did arrest a Bradford man and charged him with trafficking heroin after a stop on Bennington Street at 7:10 p.m., police said.
Julio Valerio, 34, was arrested and charged with heroin trafficking, driving after license suspension, refusing to identify himself, a seat belt violation, driving without an inspection sticker and an equipment violation, according to a state police report.
Police said State Trooper Nicholas Neczypyr pulled over the 2002 Nissan being driven by Valerio on Bennington Street at Park Street. Police discovered 165 grams of heroin in the car, police said.
Cerullo said troopers assigned to a local Community Action Team worked in the city all weekend.
"We have an excellent partnership with them,'' he said of the troopers. "They are a great asset and very helpful on the enforcement end.''
He said state police stepped up their efforts in Lawrence after the Sept. 13, 2018, gas explosions and fires. In addition to enforcement, they have also been involved in outreach efforts with senior citizens and other community efforts.
"They came during the gas explosions and really never left," Cerullo said.
Among those arrested this weekend in Lawrence included 17 people who were charged with drug offenses involving heroin, fentanyl and cocaine. Two people were charged with illegal possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, two others were charged with illegal possession of heroin with intent to distribute and 10 individuals were charged with possession of heroin or cocaine, according to state police.
Some 84 people were arrested and charged with either driving a motor vehicle after license suspension or revocation, driving a motor vehicle without a license and 64 outstanding warrants, according to state police.
Two people were arrested on out-of-state outstanding charges; one a suspect wanted for a firearms offense in Maine and the other wanted for stolen motor vehicle and child endangerment charges in Florida, according to state police.
An additional eight defendants were issued summonses to appear in court on various offenses.
Police Chief Roy Vasque said the patrols are part of a larger effort this spring and summer to improve the city's reputation and address complaints he hears from business people, residents and during neighborhood association meetings.
"Small crimes and quality of life issues can many times lead to larger issues and can be more important to residents. We will address all issues big and small to change the perception that 'anything goes' in Lawrence," Vasque said.
Mayor Daniel Rivera said the citywide impact patrols are "crucial" for improving safety and quality of life in Lawrence.
"First of all it lets residents know we are enforcing the laws at all levels not just the big crimes and that police are being proactive... Also, it lets outsiders and criminals know unless you obey even the smallest traffic infraction while in the city, you will be stopped and arrested," said Rivera, noting the intention is to make all crimes "inhospitable" in Lawrence.
"This way we can all enjoy our summer safely in Lawrence," he said.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.