ROANOKE, Va. – In less than two weeks’ time, local police have investigated three different cases of people impersonating officers.
On Saturday, Roanoke County Police arrested Deanthony Lewis who is accused of trying to attack people and arrest them in plastic handcuffs.
It’s not a surprise to former police officer and criminal justice expert Dr. Tod Burke, but it is a concern.
“This is troubling and I can tell you this is not just a local issue, this is a national issue,” he said.
Burke remembers when flashing lights and a teenager tried to stop him when he was off duty.
“I said no if I was speeding I want you to write me a ticket. He goes, (with hesitation) I’m just going to give you a warning,” Burke recounted.
But Burke ended up arresting the imposter.
If a person is not in uniform and tries to stop you in an unmarked car, Burke said do not pull over, but if you are in doubt, he said pull over in a well-lit crowded area or to a nearby police or fire department.
Call 911 to confirm it’s a legitimate traffic stop since dispatch would have received notice from the officer.
“Let them know you are contacting the police and see if they really stick around at that point,” Burke said.
Also, take a closer look at the badge and try to spot the name of a real agency, but never get out of your car and do not hand over any personal documents or ID.
Burke also points out how dangerous it is for the imposter to pull random people over.
“You don’t know if they are the nicest person in the world or if they just held up a bank,” he said.