Recently there have been reports of people impersonating police officers. In the past week alone, I have noticed two reports of police impersonation in the news.
Last week in Baton Rouge, Louisiana two men, Chad Phillips and Davante Brooks burglarized a home while impersonating police officers. The homeowner was very skeptical of the two and eventually, the men kicked the door of the home down and pulled weapons to scare the homeowner. Thankfully these two individuals were caught and arrested last Friday.
Another incident occurred in Brooklyn, New York earlier this week. 36-year-old Arcelay Camilo was arrested by the NYPD for impersonating a police officer. Camilo ended up robbing four stores before finally being caught. One of the store employees from the scene stated,
“A guy came with the police uniform, NYPD, and then he said (he was) from the drugs department and cigarettes. He walked in behind the counter to search if we have anything.”
Thankfully the employees working in the store were very suspicious and bombarded the impersonator with questions. They eventually said that they were going to call 911 to check out Camilo’s story and make sure that he wasn’t lying. Camilo ended up fleeing the scene before being caught shortly after.
These two incidents really stood out to me because I’m not used to hearing about this in the news. Usually, all the news stories about criminal activity involve robberies, murders and stuff like that. Clearly, I know that it has happened before, but it is just something that you don’t think about every day.
Obviously impersonating a police officer is VERY illegal. If caught, you can be arrested and sentenced anywhere to 5 years or more in jail depending on what state you are in. You can also receive fines anywhere from 1000 dollars or more.
This is a very concerning issue. Can it really be that easy to impersonate a police officer?
Surprisingly it is very hard to identify a real police badge from a fake one. Even actual police officers have a hard time identifying a real badge from a fake.
While impersonating a police officer is a less common crime; it still happens. If a police officer cannot easily identify a real badge over a fake badge, how are we as citizens, supposed to? It is also very easy to fake a police officers outfit as well. All you have to do is go to a costume store or order one online!
So how are we to tell the difference between a real police officer and a fake one?
Here are some helpful ways to be able to try to identify if a police officer is a real officer or just an imposter:
- All police officers have ID card issued by their agency. The card will have the name, rank, agency and photo of the officer, and will usually be issued within the last five years or so. You can ask the officer to present his ID card.
- If you are pulled over on the road be sure to check the police car. If it looks older in age and maybe the car is not in the best shape these could be signs of a police impersonator.
- If an officer is knocking at your door wait for him/her to announce their selves. Examine their uniform carefully and make sure that they announce what their purpose is for their visit. Police officers are required to notify you their purpose for the visit.
- Lastly, remember you can always call the real police as well if you feel suspicious or threatened. It’s always okay to be safe rather than sorry.
If you ever have any suspicions about a police officer remember these tips. You always want to be aware especially when dealing with situations like this.
It is very sad that some people pretend to be police officers and try to take advantage of others. It is already a nerve-racking thing to be confronted by a police officer. The last thing I would expect when being confronted by a police officer is that someone is actually pretending to be an officer. All we can try to do is be more alert and aware when we are in these situations.
-Austin De Tray