It is becoming more and more common for people to pretend they are something they are not. There are videos of people being called out for attempting to convince others that they are a soldier or marine. People claim to be able to do certain things to impress others or to make a quick buck from the trusting. But what do you do when a person is pretending to be a police officer and has pulled you over?
Just a few weeks ago, one of my wife’s friends called her out of panic. The friend had just been pulled over and had herself, her car, and purse searched. She wasn’t sure what she had done wrong, why he would search her, or if he was even a real police officer. As soon as he left, she called 911, who sent a real police officer her way, as they confirmed that no unit had made a stop in her area any time recently. She was very lucky they guy was either just a creep who wanted to look at a ladies things and touch her a bit. Or, perhaps, she was one of the first and he is still learning how to make it all work before he abducts a woman. Either way, it could have ended much worse for her.
So, how do you protect yourself?
- Remember your rights. No police officer can search you or your things without your permission unless they have a warrant or probable cause based on facts. Do not allow someone to do otherwise.
- Be aware. As soon as the man exited his car, she noticed that his uniform didn’t look right. It can be hard to tell with so many agencies out there, all who have multiple uniforms. But if it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. If you have doubts that someone is actually a police officer, keep your doors locked, and your window mostly rolled up. Then call 911. Even if the person is a real officer who doesn’t want to give you a badge number or name (though they should if asked), the dispatcher will know if there is an active traffic stop where you are. You can also ask for an additional unit or a supervisor to come on scene. Request one that is in a marked car in a standard uniform for the area.
- If things get scary fast, drive to a police station while on the phone with 911. Turn on your hazard lights to let the officer know you are aware they are there and drive safely. If they are a real officer, things should not get to this point, but if they do and you end up at a station while on the phone with a dispatcher, it is unlikely that you would get charged with evading police, so long as you can explain your reasons for concern and it matches with what you told the dispatcher.
It also wouldn’t hurt to speak with local police and learn what they suggest to do in your area to avoid these types of dangers.
It is a shame that we live in a world where you have to question if someone is actually the police officer they claim to be, but it is a fact it seems. Protect yourself by knowing your rights and staying aware.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the opinion of the writer and do not reflect the policies of this website or organization.