BAXTER COUNTY, AR (KAIT) – The BaxterCounty Sheriff's Office and Mountain Home Police Department have sent out analert informing the public to be aware of a possible impostor cop.
According to Baxter County SheriffJohn F. Montgomery, a woman complained that a man displaying a flashing bluelight on the dash of his vehicle pulled her over in Mountain Home Sundayevening around 6:15.
Police describe the man as probably inhis 30's with a slim, muscular build; short, light colored hair; and somefacial hair. He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt, and he wasdriving a black sports car with "fancy wheels", but the make and model areunknown, according to investigators.
Officers said the woman also told themhe was carrying a gun, but she did not see a badge or identification. She saidhe did not identify himself, but did ask for her license and other documentsbefore threatening her with traffic citations and letting her go.
The woman said she first noticed thesports car passing several vehicles to get behind her, explained police. The policereport indicates that when she arrived to Mountain Home, she turned down some sidestreets in the Northern Hills area; while on those streets, the woman said theman following her activated his flashing lights, and she pulled over somewhereon Arkansas Avenue.
The sheriff's department said it isunusual that a law enforcement officer would attempt to stop a vehicle by usingjust a single dash light mounted on an unmarked, unfamiliar vehicle. The department also said all Sheriff's patrolvehicles and Mountain Home Police patrol vehicles are fully marked withmultiple emergency lights and siren.
While investigators and someadministrative personnel do drive unmarked vehicles, most of these are alsoequipped with multiple emergency lighting systems and a siren should thoseofficers need to stop a vehicle in the performance of their duties.
An off duty officer would also have adepartment issued badge and ID card that he or she would immediately display toany person pulled over. Departmentpolicies also require all officers who make vehicle stops to radio them in tothe communications dispatchers so they can accurately log and record allinformation.
Most department policies also prohibitoff duty officers in personal unmarked vehicles from attempting to make vehiclestops in other than very urgent situations and certainly not for minor trafficoffenses.
The Sheriff's Office and Mountain HomePolice offered the following advice to anyone when a person in an unmarkedvehicle with a solitary flashing or rotating dash light is trying to pull themover:
- Ifyou have any uncertainty about the legitimacy of the person operating a vehiclewith a flashing or rotating dash light trying to get you to pull over, you mayturn on your emergency flashers and continue driving at normal speed until youreach a place of relative safety, such as a business that is open with otherpersons around. If after dark, seek awell-lighted location in view of other passing motorists, or drive to yourlocal law enforcement office or facility.
- Bealert for the sound of a "siren", which may help confirm thelegitimacy of the person displaying the flashing or rotating light. Legitimate law enforcement personnel willhave a siren mounted in unmarked government vehicles. Illegitimate imposters may not have asiren. This is only an indicator ofpotential legitimacy, and the presence of a siren is not a guarantee that alegitimate officer is behind you. Thisis only a clue that you can look and listen for.
- Usea cell phone to call the Sheriff's Office or Police Department. Dispatchers should be able to confirm whetheror not a legitimate law enforcement officer is attempting to pull you over. If this cannot be confirmed, do not stop forthe unmarked vehicle but continue driving at normal speed to a safelocation. The dispatchers will sendassistance to you.
"Our officers will be understandingand show patience with citizens who are reluctant to stop for unmarked,unfamilar law enforcement vehicles because they understand the potential forfoul play by an imposter," said Sheriff Montgomery.
If you have any information about apotential suspect or additional vehicle description, please contact theSheriff's Office or the Mountain Home Police Department as soon as possible.