5 Suggestions to Help Stop Police Impersonators
Andrew Hawkes / PoliceLink
Law enforcement officers across the country share information everyday about suspected police impersonators that are roaming our streets, conducting traffic stops, committing crimes, often violent in nature, and then driving off into the abyss with little information other than “A white car with lights and a male in a dark uniform with some unknown type of badge”.
Stopping these offenders, or at the very least hindering their illegal operation doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. It is funny to me how some of the lawmakers of our state can over look such small loopholes in our statutes that sometimes create huge problems.
For example, in Texas, we have quite a few offenses that involve criminals impersonating police. Here are a few of my suggestions that the legislature could act upon to help curtain this problem:
1. Stop selling used retired squad cars to the general public. We drive Ford Crown Vic police interceptors that are simply stripped of the decals and sold at auction to anyone that wants to pay $3000 for one of them. The next thing you know is you’re on patrol and you can’t tell if it’s a detective from a local agency or an impersonator. Everyone from volunteer firemen to minimum wage security guards are driving white Crown Vics with spotlights and dark tinted windows. This practice has to stop.
2. Write new and tougher legislation on flashing lights and strobes. Don’t allow everyone and their mother to have some sort of variation of strobes that are legal. Narrow the statutes and be extremely specific about the use of all types of colored strobe lights and limit them to emergency vehicles only.
3. For the love of God come up with a standardized, across the board uniform for all private security guards and companies and make sure that they do not resemble police uniforms in anyway. I’ve seen marked uniforms and security “patrol” vehicles that are exact matches for the Dallas Police Department and the only difference is the tiny wording on the patches or car.
4. Enact legislation to stop the practice in law enforcement agencies to drive unmarked, colored squad cars. When you see an unmarked, colored squad car, you still know it’s the police, so what purpose do they serve? They are not covert so mark them out or drive something more covert.
5. We live in a society of scam artists, even in law enforcement, We as officer’s must be more lenient when it comes to the average citizen wanting and expecting more “proof” that we are indeed the police. These impersonators have created this problem. But, because of this problem, as a cop I have to be patient and not be offended if I need to show someone my ID card, let them read the wording on my badge and patch and even hand everyone that I encounter my business card. I tell my family if they ever question someone who looks like a police officer that stops them to ask for these things, and if you are a real “cop” you should have no problem comforting them. It can’t be an ego thing; it must be handled as a safety issue.
God bless the men and women in blue that put their life on the line to serve and protect. And if you are one that wants to be a fake to commit crimes, watch out, because we are coming for you.