Cop impersonator pulls over vehicle on U.S. 40 Thursday night | CraigDailyPress.com

Cop impersonator pulls over vehicle on U.S. 40 Thursday night

Noelle Leavitt Riley

A man impersonating a police officer pulled a car over Thursday night on U.S. Highway 40 near the border of Moffat and Routt counties, and local law enforcement agencies said it's the second incident reported in the last three weeks.

"It's definitely very dangerous, and that's the reason we wanted to put it out to the public," Craig Police Commander Bill Leonard said . "This is definitely a sticky situation. Our No. 1 concern is public safety."

The phony police officer was driving a dark-colored, unmarked sedan that had emergency lights in the windshield area, and the suspect is a middle-aged male, average height and weight with facial hair, according to a press release.

The Moffat County Sheriff's Office, Craig Police Department and Colorado State Patrol are all investigating the incident and are trying to catch the impersonator, who is still at large. That's all the information law enforcement is willing to give at this point.

"Those who impersonate law enforcement officers endanger unsuspecting citizens and erode public trust," stated the news release.

Routt County recently dealt with a similar situation, where a man impersonated a cop and pulled over a woman. The man was driving a small, Champagne-colored sport-utility vehicle with red and blue lights in the grill guard, according to a story that ran in the Steamboat Pilot and Today.

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The man in the SUV was white, roughly 5 feet 8 inches tall with short dark hair, in his late 20s or 30s.

Leonard is not sure if the Routt County incident is connected to what happened in Moffat County since they were two different vehicles.

Tips to protect yourself from phony police officers:

• Make sure it is a marked police unit. If it is not a marked unit, the emergency lights should be built in and are usually not a temporary light placed on the vehicle.

• Try to stop in a well-lit area or a location where there are a lot of people present.

• Turn on your emergency flashers, but don't turn off your car.

• Lock your door and only open your window a few inches until you are confident that the officer is legitimate.

• Be polite, but express your concerns when in doubt. Most legitimate police officers will understand your concerns when explained properly.

• Look for a uniform, official department jacket and other equipment used by police officers for the performance of their duties.

• If the officer is in plainclothes, look for identifying clothing and equipment. If unsure, explain to the "officer" that you are unsure about the situation and ask them to display official department pictured identification and badge.

• Ask where they work and if you can contact their dispatch center to confirm their identity.

• You may also request a marked patrol unit respond.

• Put on your flashers, drive the speed limit and call 911 from your cell phone. Tell the 911 dispatcher that you are concerned.

• If you do not have a cell phone, drive to an occupied, well-lit area, such as the parking lot of a busy store.

• Do not stop your vehicle or get out of your vehicle until a dispatcher can confirm you are being pulled over by a legitimate police officer.

• If the dispatcher cannot confirm that you are being pulled over by a police officer, stay on the line with the dispatcher. Drive carefully to a safe place, such as a local law enforcement agency.