On July 4th, 2015, at 0216 hours, Anne Arundel County Eastern District Bureau of Patrol police officers responded to a police impersonation call in the area of Crain Highway South near Green Branch Drive in Glen Burnie, MD. Upon arrival, officers spoke with a complainant who stated at approximately 1 a.m., they were stopped by a police style white Ford Crown Victoria displaying a flashing blue and red dome light on the roof. The vehicle had grey wheel covers, police package spotlight, a magnetic ‘bubble’ light on the roof with a power cord going into the vehicle. The driver’s door had a decal ‘Police’ approximately the length of the door. The script was black in color, outlined in yellow.
The driver of the Ford Crown Victoria turned off all the vehicle lights including the dome light and exited the car. Once he reached the victim, he identified himself as Anne Arundel County Police and said he pulled the victim over for suspected DWI. The suspect then asked for the victim’s driver’s license and went back to his vehicle. After a few minutes, the suspect returned to victim’s vehicle, handed the victim’s license back, and had the victim step out of the vehicle. The suspect then had the victim blow into a device that registered “.000” and had the victim walk in a straight line. The victim stated the suspect’s demeanor was intimidating and threatening during the course of the stop. When the victim attempted to use a cell phone, the suspect stated she was free to go, returned to his car and sped off onto northbound Route 97.
County Police CID Homeland Security & Intelligence Unit Detectives investigated this case over the weekend and followed up on leads. Detectives interviewed the victim who provided additional suspect descriptors. He was described white male, 6-00, Medium build, Brown hair, mustache, Navy Blue uniform shirt and pants, Silver Anne Arundel Badge, “Williams” inscribed on Badge and generic “police” patch on shoulder. The suspect was not wearing any sort of duty belt, firearm, or radio; however he was holding handcuffs in his hand. Additionally, the Crown Victoria’s headlights were described as dull and “yellowish.” Detectives determined the vehicle’s body style was a year 2000 and above.
CID Homeland Security & Intelligence Unit detectives are working with surrounding jurisdictions to identify similar incidents. Anyone with information should call the Criminal Investigation Division Tips Line at 410-222-4700. Callers can remain anonymous.
Tips for Protecting You from Law Enforcement Impersonators
Anne Arundel County police officers know and are aware that pulling over a vehicle in an unmarked car while in plain clothes can present many challenges. Our officers are trained to identify themselves and provide identification when conducting traffic stops in unmarked vehicles. If you feel that the person is not a bona fide officer, call 9-1-1 and ask dispatch to verify. Ask to see all credentials (badge and commission card which contains a pic and thumb print) and you can request a supervisor to either call you or come to your location.
Those who impersonate police officers erode the public’s trust in law enforcement and may endanger unsuspecting people. There are several tips you can remember to protect yourself during a traffic stop while helping your police officers do their jobs.
- If the vehicle stopping you is not a marked unit, the emergency lights should be built in and are usually not a temporary light placed on the vehicle.
- Try to stop in a well-lit area or a location where there are a lot of people present.
- Turn on your emergency flashers but don’t turn off your car.
- Do not get out of the vehicle to meet the officer. For safety purposes, officers usually want you to remain in the vehicle.
- Lock your door.
- Look for a uniform, official department jacket, and other equipment used by police officers for the performance of their duties.
- If the officer is in plainclothes, look for identifying clothing and equipment. If unsure, explain to the “officer” that you are unsure about the situation and ask them to display official department identification and badge. Ask where they work and if you can contact their dispatch center to confirm their identity. You may also request a marked patrol unit respond.
- Pay attention to what they are asking. Most officers will advise you of the reason for the stop and request your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.
- If they immediately tell you to get out of the car without any preliminary questions, be suspicious.
- Trust your instincts. If they don’t seem to be a real police officer they are probably not.
- Look for these clues for imposters:
Uniform pants does not match uniform shirt
- Uniform shirt does not have patches, silver or gold buttons, epaulets on shoulders, pins on collar
- Impersonator does not have utility belt with firearm, magazine pouch, baton, handcuff case, radio, etc…
- No identification, police commission card, or badge
- Vehicle is not marked and does not have red and blue flashing lights
- Extreme nervousness on the part of the impersonator when speaking
- Does not introduce themselves or agency
- Asks for inappropriate information or makes inappropriate requests
In cases where these clues are present please call 9-1-1 for verification and to request a supervisor. Impersonating a police officer is a serious offense and will be aggressively enforced and prosecuted by the Anne Arundel County Police Department.