Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Friday

June 27, 2014

Man sought in police impersonation incident

TRAVERSE CITY — A few things didn't add up when a man in an unmarked car pulled over a woman in Garfield Township.

The woman, 35, first noticed that the supposed police officer who stopped her May 19 on Harris Road near Lone Tree Road held up a flashing red-and-white light from inside his vehicle.

She pulled over, but became confused when the man told her she ran through a red light, though no such lights were in the vicinity. The woman drove off when the man didn't show a badge after she asked for identification.

"It was just her gut feeling that told her that something may not be right," said Grand Traverse County sheriff's Capt. Randy Fewless.

Fewless said investigators seek the public's help identifying and finding the man they believe impersonated a police officer. He said no law enforcement agencies reported making a stop in the area.

"One of the biggest concerns for us is we want to let people know when they're stopped it's by a legitimate law enforcement officer," Fewless said.

The sheriff's department and other local agencies do use unmarked vehicles for traffic patrols or officers in administrative positions. Undersheriff Nate Alger said there are ways motorists can tell if an officer and traffic stop are the genuine articles and keep themselves safe.

Most local law enforcement cars, even if unmarked, use a combination of flashing blue and red lights. Alger said they'd likely be affixed in the vehicle, unlike the hand-held light the suspect used in the recent incident.

"This is such a rare event. We haven't had this happen in years," he said.

Alger said motorists with suspicions or concerns about a stop should call 911 and ask dispatchers if a police officer or deputy reported the stop.

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