When we are pulled over by a police officer, we generally assume that the officer is, in fact, a legit law enforcement officer. A recent story from The Gazette makes us second guess that perhaps dangerous assumption. A Colorado soldier was arrested and charged with a rarer traffic violation compared to the standard cases of speeding or running a stop sign.
A woman reported to Castle Rock police in November that a man had wrongfully pulled her over while presenting himself as though he were a true officer of the law. The so-called "officer" reportedly touched the woman through a body frisk and ended the interaction by telling her she was getting off with a warning.
It's apparently not the woman who needs any legal advice at this point. According to sources, the man who pulled over and frisked the Colorado woman is not a police officer, and he was breaking the law by impersonating one. He managed to fake his authority by driving an official-looking vehicle and using blue and red lights on the car - a violation of traffic laws for those who aren't law enforcement.
When the woman gave investigators the description of the man who pulled her over and described his vehicle, authorities were able to quickly identify a promising focus of investigation. They arrested a 21-year-old suspect, a Fort Carson soldier, and charged him with the following: unlawful sexual contact, false imprisonment, displaying signals on a non-emergency vehicle and impersonating an officer.
We will post an update as more details become available. If you ever have any doubts about the legitimacy of a police officer, you can call 911 or verify that the officer's documents are valid by calling the issuing agency. It's better to be safe than sorry.
The Gazette: "Carson soldier accused of impersonating cop, fondling woman," Lance Benzel, 27 Jan. 2011