NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted August 21, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, Indictment No. 10-03-0797.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Kevin G. Byrnes, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Warren W. Faulk, Camden County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Linda A. Shashoua, Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief).
Before Judges Waugh and Haas.
Defendant Pablo Lopez appeals his conviction, following a guilty plea, for third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (heroin), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1). We affirm.
We discern the following facts and procedural history from the record on appeal.
On December 27, 2009, Camden Police Officer Daniel Pope was dispatched to investigate an anonymous tip, apparently received through a 9-1-1 call, that there were two males, one Hispanic and one black, parked in a gold-colored Cadillac in the area of 19th and Wayne Streets. Pope described it as an "extremely high crime area." The dispatcher informed Pope that the occupants were reported to be armed with handguns.
When Pope arrived at the specified area in his patrol car shortly after 5 p.m., he observed a parked vehicle with two males. Both the vehicle and its occupants fit the descriptions given to him by the dispatcher.
Pope pulled his patrol car behind the Cadillac and turned on his flashing lights. He observed the occupants looking up and then making furtive gestures in the vehicle. Based upon his training, knowledge of the area, and the information received from the dispatcher, the furtive actions caused him to be concerned about his personal safety. He used the patrol car's loudspeaker and ordered the occupants to keep their hands outside the windows so he could see them. He anticipated the imminent arrival of other patrol units.
Pope next observed the passenger exit the Cadillac. Although Pope ordered him to get back into the car, the passenger ran from the area. Pope then ordered the driver, who was later identified as Lopez, to get out of the vehicle and secured him in the patrol car pending further investigation. While standing next to the Cadillac, Pope observed a Ziploc bag containing what he believed to be ...