Fake Police Officers – Know Your Rights


Payton Perkins

If you are pulled over, turn on your hazards and go to a well lit area.

According to the Coloradoan, last Monday a woman in south Fort Collins was stopped by a man in a black Dodge Charger with fake emergency lights. He asked to see her license and requested she step out of her vehicle. The woman was suspicious and requested his credentials, which he refused to provide. She drove away and called the police, who confirmed that he wasn’t a real police officer. The suspect was a white male in his 20s to 30s, 6 ft tall, with brown hair and brown eyes.


Colorado has laws is place to stop these incidents, called “Lacy’s Law,” named after a UNC student killed by a police impersonator. It is illegal in Colorado to use or possess false red and blue flashing lights. This is a class 1 misdemeanour, meaning 6-18 months in jail and a fine of anywhere $500-$5’000. Impersonating a police officer is a felony, which is far more serious and warrants more jail time and fines.


At the time of Miller’s death, only 4 states had laws penalizing impersonating a police officer. Now it’s almost half, but there isn’t a national precedent and cases of people impersonating a police officer are handled case-by-case in Colorado. This means that people convicted of impersonating a police officer are still in Colorado and the rest of the US. Staying diligent and aware of what a real police officer looks like and what you can do if you feel unsafe is very important.


“A police officer, like the military, they do uniform inspections before every shift,” Michael Perkins said, who was a military police officer. The military has different procedures because they also deal with military personnel and military security, but they follow many of the same precautions. “Their uniform is going to look very pristine. They’re generally going to be very fit.” If a police officer pulling you over has a uniform that has stains, is wrinkled, or if they are overweight, they might not be legitimate.


The Castle Rock Police, who had an incident of police impersonation in 2014, recommended that if a person believes they are being pursued by a false officer, they can call the local number and request to know if an officer is on patrol there. They also have the right to pull over when they reach a well lit parking lot or gas station, they can request a badge number, call 911 if they feel endangered, and request the 911 dispatcher to send another officer over.


After the Monday incident, the Fort Collins Police has also laid out recommendations for what to do if you believe you are being pulled over by an impersonator. In the Coloradoan article, the FCPS says that you can call 911 and request to know if the person pulling you over is legitimate, turn on your hazards, if possible get to a well-lit public place, be respectful but wary, ask to see credentials, remember any details you can, and stay on the line with the 911 dispatcher.


“If at any time you don’t feel comfortable with the stop, or that you’re not sure who it is who’s stopping you, you should turn on your flashers, call 911,” Rocky security officer David Hart said. Hart has 30 years of law enforcement experience. “That dispatcher for this area should be able to tell you if its an officer or not. If you’re still not comfortable, drive to a well-lit populated area and stop there. If its a fake officer they’re probably not gonna keep continuing following you.”


The Fort Collins police non-emergency number is 970-419-3273, and you can find most local police stations numbers online. If you feel like you are in danger, call 911 and remain on the line with the dispatcher.


If you think you have been pulled over by the suspect in the Monday case or you have information, call 970-419-3273.