This guy never had a chance.
An accused serial carjacker was nabbed red-handed by New York’s Finest — thanks to the NYPD’s Community Response Team (CRT), a new tech-savvy, street-smart unit patrolling the streets of the five boroughs.
That was bad news for 22-year-old Brian Perales, who was spotted, cornered and chased down by the CRT and Queens cops on Feb. 7 shortly after police got an alert about a carjacking on Long Island — and with The Post along for the ride to see it all going down.
The fast-response team is armed with a first-ever set of tools — a combination of heat-seeking drones and other high-tech gadgets to go along with good old-fashioned police smarts.
“This isn’t classic pursuits all over the place,” NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell said. “We have drones available and our eventual goal is to train the handheld drones. A classic scenario would be, ‘Stolen car?’ We could call [the police] Aviation [Unit], but the drone is much faster.”
Perales became an example of the team’s efficiency during the Feb. 7 patrol.
The CRT got the alert about a white Acura stolen at gunpoint in Nassau County from an aviation unit while patrolling the streets in a police Chrysler Pacifica minivan, with Chell, Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry and several cops from the new team.
The team tipped off the aviation unit and sent word to the MTA bridges and tunnels to be ready to shut down the Whitestone Bridge — while letting the 109th Precinct in Queens know the stolen car was heading their way while the CRT van also sped to the scene.
The team, after all, casts a wide net.
“When this guy stole this car, he underestimated our relationship with Nassau County,” Daughtry said. “He thought he would be safe here.”
The CRT van caught up with the chase in Queens, where Perales allegedly jumped out of the stolen vehicle and led cops on a brief foot chase, allegedly hurling a brown backpack as he ran.
Police caught up with him and slapped the cuffs on him — later finding a loaded gun in the stolen car.
Sources said Perales is the primary suspect in five carjackings, not counting Nassau County, along with four earlier arrests on his rap sheet and two active robbery warrants dating to December.
The efficiency of his arrest was possible due to the real-time, on-the-ground coordination of the team, which has designated police dispatchers to speed up communication between units and precincts.
The drones can track down suspects even at night thanks to heat-seeking cameras.
However, the CRT is not out to write summonses for littering — nor take a cold-hearted view of minor infractions while looking for bigger fish.
During the Feb. 7 ride-along, the team used discretion, in one instance letting a food delivery worker with no license plates on his scooter ride off with a warning to take care of the issue.
“We’re in the process of updating our patrol guide,” Chell said. “We have to be real, real careful. That’s why we incorporate technology, communication, better strategy and redefining some rules and equations we’re going to follow within the guidelines.”
He called the team “the first-ever nationwide 24/7 apprehension program.”
The Community Response Team grew out of a 2022 initiative, the department said, but is still expanding and is expected to eventually grow into one of the NYPD’s most efficient weapons.
It enables cops to quickly coordinate police responses, allowing brass to marshal resources across various agencies, and even stop traffic or shut down bridges with amazing efficiency.
“You see the numbers come down, but when you start to arrest some of these younger kids from New Jersey, the kids that come over from Staten Island, the kids say, ‘You changed up out here, we don’t come out here as much,’” Chell said.
“So, that’s really as powerful as it gets,” he added. “The proof is in the numbers and the conversations.”
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