Sheriff Tommy Gregory released a composite drawing of the impostor Monday and advised residents and travelers to remain calm but take precautions when someone they think might not be a real law enforcement officer tries to pull them over.
The phony cop has a badge and is armed with a handgun that he has kept holstered during the four incidents motorists reported, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Deputy William Terrell told the Times-Union.
The motorists include two men and two women. Although one man was verbally harassed because of his nationality, none of the four victims were injured, Terrell said.
He said the victims were stopped during both daylight and nighttime hours. The first incident reported was in late 2008, followed by similar encounters in November 2010 and February.
The impostor most recently confronted a motorist about 8:10 a.m. July 24. Two incidents occurred near St. Marys and the others happened on I-95, Terrell said.
Each time, the impostor was driving a car with flashing blue lights, and he showed the drivers a police badge. Deputies don’t know if it was a real badge, he said.
“He [impostor] tells them they are speeding or committed some other traffic violation. He doesn’t give them a ticket; he warns them, then lets them go,” Terrell said.
The man poses a danger both to the public and real police, who may stop to back up or otherwise assist another officer, Terrell said.
“If they don’t realize it’s someone impersonating an officer, they could be killed or injured by him,” Terrell said.
Deputies described the impostor as a white man who looks to be in his early 30s. Clean-shaven with short reddish hair and blue eyes, he is about 6 feet 2 and weighs about 200 pounds.
He was last seen wearing a police-style uniform shirt, fatigue-like pants and a police cap, Terrell said.
Terrell also said the gunman possibly was driving a Ford Crown Victoria or a Dodge Charger equipped with blue lights.
Southeast Georgia law enforcement officials say motorists can take some precautions if concerned about the authenticity of an officer trying to get them to pull over.
– Stay calm and slow down if you see a vehicle with flashing blue lights approaching you.
– Don’t speed away because a real officer will interpret that as fleeing the scene.
– Drive at a reasonable speed to a well-lit or well-populated area where you feel safe stopping.
– If you have a cellphone, call 911 and tell the dispatcher what is going on. Ask if there is a real officer in that area who is trying to stop you, and ask the dispatcher to send another officer to your location. If it is possible, leave the cellphone line open during the stop so the dispatcher can hear what is going on during the stop.
Authorities said motorists should pay close attention to their exact location, to the officer’s clothing, physical appearance including any distinguishing features and the type of vehicle they are driving
They also should ask for the officer’s name and their law enforcement agency.
Motorists should call 911 and report the encounter immediately if you think the officer was bogus, Terrell said.
Anyone with any information is urged to call the Sheriff’s Office at (912) 729-1442, Lt. Jerald Brannen at (912) 510-5173 or Capt. Chuck Byerly at (912) 510-5113.