CCSO officials investigate possible peace officer impersonation

Published 11:00 am Thursday, February 10, 2022

The Covington County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from a concerned citizen stopped by a male subject with strobe lights attached to his vehicle Thursday, Feb. 3.

According to a CCSO statement, the encounter occurred in the Sanford community around dusk.

“The male subject approached the female driver and stated that her tail lights were out, and she was breaking the law. The driver became suspicious and questioned the male subject’s authority and the lack of a uniform. The male subject stated he was calling law enforcement and returned to his vehicle. The citizen was able to provide investigators with a good description of the suspect and his vehicle,” according to the statement.

The suspect was later located and identified by investigators in Coffee County. The investigation subsequently revealed the suspect had a homemade light bar with amber and white strobe lights attached to his vehicle. “These lights are allowed to be installed on any vehicle under Alabama law and are used by the suspect when towing a vehicle,” said the release.

The investigation revealed the subject had no ill intentions but used poor judgment on stopping the vehicle in an attempt to alert another motorist to what he believed to be a safety concern.

“Alabama Code states that a person commits the crime of impersonating a peace officer if he falsely pretends to be a peace officer. The suspect, in this case, did not state or imply that he was a law enforcement officer. However, his behavior was out of character with what most people consider normal driver behavior and alarmed the driver, and caused community concern. Although he had no ill intentions, his bad judgment could have led to a more serious incident. The female driver in this incident did not panic and kept her composure,” the release stated.

Covington County Sheriff Blake Turman felt this incident should be a reminder to all citizens.

“If during a traffic stop you are unsure of the status of the vehicle attempting to stop you, you should call 911 to verify that the vehicle is a legitimate law enforcement officer, activate your emergency flashers, slow down, and continue to a well-lit area before stopping. Additionally, if you see someone else committing a traffic offense or creating a safety hazard, the best course of action is to contact law enforcement and not try to intervene yourself,” Turman said.