How convincing a cop was a 24-year-old Colorado Springs man currently being held on felony police-impersonation charges? Well, the vehicle he used was a gray 1995 Cadillac sedan, the sort of car preferred by eighty-year-old retirees or ride-pimpers getting ready for Cinco de Mayo, not the police. Instead of a red-and-blue bubble light mounted on top of the vehicle, he opted for a white strobe light in the front window and a flashing white-and-yellow strobe in back. (Maybe the Caddy used to be a mobile disco...) A Colorado State Patrol release describes his uniform as featuring "security guard patches and a gold security badge with the word 'Chief' printed at the top." And he capped off this ensemble with handcuffs and a black toy pistol.
Even Paul Blart, mall cop, could have seen through this disguise, which sounds like a Halloween costume less believable than any of those sexy-cop outfits on sale at Target. But Trooper David Hall isn't laughing.
"Someone like me would look at it and obviously it wouldn't be convincing," he says. "But that's in the eye of the beholder, especially for the average person driving down the road, with lights flashing behind them in the dark."
Hall hasn't noticed a spike of incidents like these around Halloween: "Either someone's into doing this kind of thing or they're not." But, he goes on, "These people are violating the trust that when you see flashing lights behind you, that person has the authority to make contact with you. If someone has been victimized by an impersonator, they're less likely to pull over for law enforcement next time, and that raises the tension level of an already tense situation. We take this incredibly seriously, which is why this is a felony, not a misdemeanor."
That goes for inept faux-cops as well as more credible ones -- and in this case, the CSP has evidence that the man in question has pulled the stunt before. Hence, his name and photo haven't been released yet. But the following information has:
The Colorado State Patrol is seeking assistance from the public on locating motorists who may have been stopped or contacted by a police impersonator in the El Paso County area.
On 10/28/09 at approximately 9:02 PM the Colorado State Patrol communications center received a call from a female driver who believed that a police impersonator was attempting to pull vehicles over on Interstate 25. State Patrol Troopers were dispatched to the area.
At approximately 10:20 PM, State Troopers located the vehicle a 1995 gray, full-size Cadillac sedan. The vehicle was equipped with flashing white strobe lights in the front windshield and flashing white and yellow strobe lights in the rear window. The suspect was wearing a uniform with security guard patches and a gold security badge with the word "Chief" printed at the top. On his belt he had handcuffs and a black toy pistol.
The suspect, a 24-year-old white male from Colorado Springs, Colorado, was arrested and booked into El Paso County Jail for Felony Police Impersonation and operating an uninsured motor vehicle. The Colorado State Patrol is not releasing the suspect's name or booking photo at this time pending further investigation. The suspect identity and photo will be released as the investigation progresses. The vehicle has been impounded by the State Patrol.
The Colorado State Patrol is working with law enforcement agencies in the surrounding counties, as well as the Colorado Information Analysis Center (CIAC) to determine if the suspect is linked to other such cases. If a motorist has been stopped recently by someone they suspect as a police impersonator matching this description, they are asked to call the Colorado State Patrol at 303-239-4501.