MOUNT VERNON — Following the recent assault of a woman in Delaware County by a man allegedly posing as a police officer, local law enforcement officials are reminding people what cautions to take if they fear they are being targeted by a police impersonator.
Lt. Chad McGinty, commander of the Mount Gilead post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, said vehicles without police markings, even ones with flashing red or blue lights, are not used by his troopers for traffic stops.
“It is highly unlikely that you are going to be pulled over by an unmarked car,” McGinty said. “If somebody just has a single flashing light on the dashboard or red and blue flashing lights either in the grill or the front bumper area, it’s highly unlikely that that type of vehicle would ever be used for a traffic stop.”
Knox County Sheriff David Barber said even though his department has unmarked vehicles with red and blue flashing lights, the vehicles are not used for traffic stops.
“The only reason we have concealed red and blue lights in our vehicles is for visibility if we have to leave them on the road at a scene,” the sheriff said. “We would not use them for traffic enforcement.”
Both McGinty and Barber advised drivers who see an unmarked vehicle with flashing lights in the rearview mirror, with a driver motioning for them to pull over, to not stop, but keep driving toward a populated area or most preferably, a police station.
“Don’t stop, and keep your doors locked and your windows up,” cautioned Barber. “Call 9-1-1 and follow the dispatcher’s instructions.”
McGinty agreed. “The dispatcher is going to be able to account for where every officer is,” he explained. “Also, calling 9-1-1 makes them aware that someone is posing as an officer.”
Barber said driving toward an area with high visibility and people around is the safest course of action if a questionable individual attempts to pull you over.
“If you have a suspicion that something’s not right, call 9-1-1 and keep driving,” Barber said.
“If you can get to somewhere where it is well lit and populated, do so, staying on the line with the 9-1-1 dispatcher and do what they tell you to do,” Barber instructed. “Stay on the line and keep your doors locked and windows up until legitimate law enforcement assistance shows up.”