Phony Police Car Lands Man In Jail

Tuesday, February 6th 2007, 6:29 am
By: News On 6

Officers arrest a man Monday night who had red and blue police lights on top of his car and on his dash. Police pulled over Shannon Green for having an improper tag and because his car matched the description given by a man who'd called 911. The 911 caller told police a man with red and blue lights on his car pulled him over, handcuffed him, searched his car, then let him go.

Officers did not find handcuffs or a gun in Green's car.

"He bought the light bar at the flea market at Admiral Circle and the folks who sold it to him, attached it for him," said Tulsa Police Sergeant Mike Williams.

So how do you know if the person pulling you over is a real cop or a fake one? News on 6 anchor Lori Fullbright reports on how you can tell the difference.

Impersonating an officer can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. People have pretended to be cops to harass people, to sexually assault women or to feel the power of authority. And buying police items is as easy as going on line, on one website alone we found badges of all shapes and sizes, collar brass, uniform shirts and accessories like holsters and light bars. Some websites require proof you're an officer, others do not.

Oklahoma state law says if an officer in an unmarked car makes a traffic stop, the officer must be in a full uniform, not jeans or raid gear.

"If you're in doubt, the best thing is to dial 911 and call dispatch, and ask if an officer is pulling you officer. Say, I'm at this location," Sergeant Mark Mackenzie said.

If you don't have a phone, drive the speed limit, turn on your hazard lights, wave to the person behind you and drive to the first, well-lit, well-populated area and pull over. Legitimate officers realize people worry about fake cops.

"Most officers are understanding. We all have family members of all sexes and ages that we care about," Tulsa Police Officer Mike Avey said.

As for Green, he was not arrested for impersonating an officer, but was arrested for traffic violations and having illegal equipment on his car.

If someone doesn't feel right about a traffic stop, you can ask the officer to have a supervisor come to the scene. Badges are easy to buy, but real officers also have commission cards, you could ask to see that as well. And if someone knocks on your door saying they're a cop call 911 and check before opening the door.