Michael Tabman

Fake Cops: Be Alert; Be Safe

In Crime and Security, Uncategorized on July 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Recently in the Denver area, a woman was sexually assaulted by two individuals who presented themselves as police officers. They drove a vehicle with emergency lights and wore police style uniforms. A second, similar incident occurred near-by, though the woman escaped assault.

Fake cops are not new. When I was a cop in the 1980s, we experienced a fake cop, dressed in one of our uniforms stopping women and assaulting them. The question then arises of how to protect yourself from fake cops without exacerbating a situation when real police officers pull you over.

As always, trust your gut. In the second incident noted above, the woman did not cooperate, and did not open her door. She felt that the individual did not appear to be a real police officer, though wearing a police-type shirt. When she began to dial her cell phone for help, the would-be assailant fled. In these situations, your cell phone is your greatest weapon. Keep it handy. If you are stopped by a police officer and have any concerns to his legitimacy, call 911, and the dispatcher will confirm whether or not the police officer is a real police officer. When you pull over, keep your doors locked, open the window only slightly and keep the car in “drive” with your foot on the brake. If it becomes apparent that the cop is fake, and you are in danger, you can quickly flee. If you are unsure, tell the officer that you are calling 911 to confirm who he is. A real police officer will understand. Be careful not to reach under your seat or make any motion to give the officer reason to fear for his safety.

If you do not have a cell phone and you are suspicious when you are pulled over, using the same precautions, ask the officer to call for another police officer in a marked vehicle. If all that fails and you have doubt, tell the officer that you will continue to drive to a more populated area, ideally a police station, fire station or other area where an assault will be deterred. As well, if you are being cited for only a traffic violation, there is no reason for the police officer to order you out of the vehicle. Most often, the officer prefers that you remain in the vehicle while he writes the ticket.

The same precautions should be used when an officer arrives at your home. If there is doubt, call 911 and confirm before opening the door. If approached on the street by a plain-clothes cop, do not be convinced by the display of a badge and gun, and do not leave with anyone asking you to do so; confirm his identity and/or demand uniformed officers first arrive. If the police want to talk to you, you can meet them at the police station. Remember, we are not discussing resisting a legal arrest.

As always: stay alert, stay safe and trust your gut.

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