The source of the smoke: a 2002 Oldsmobile parked a few cars away. Three men were inside the car along with small bags of suspected marijuana in plain sight, said spokesman Lt. Steven Jones.
They couldn't have been confused about where they were parked. The trio had been waiting for a fourth man who had gone into the police barracks to retrieve an impounded car.
Tapia, whose shift hadn't even begun, didn't have to wait for his first arrest of the evening, Jones said.
He called out to other troopers who arrived at the scene instantly.
The appearance of law enforcement officers startled the men in the car.
"Imagine their surprise," Jones said. "They obviously weren't expecting to see troopers."
A search of the car turned up 15 small bags of marijuana and more than a dozen pills of suspect ecstasy. Arrested and charged with drug possession were Tamer Abdelrahim, 22 of West Paterson; and Isaias Parrilla, 22, Hensly Nunez, 21, and Bernardo Cuevas, 23, all of Paterson.
Contact Sam Wood at 215-854-2796 or firstname.lastname@example.org.