Dallas police have put out a warning to be on the lookout for individuals impersonating officers and using that authority to gain others’ compliance.
According to a statement from the Dallas Police Department, the scammers have equipped their vehicles with red and blue lights, using them to cut through traffic and force motorists to pull over.
The DPD released some tips for anyone who might find themselves in a situation with this kind of fraudster.
First, if you are being pulled over by an unmarked car and are unsure whether it is an actual officer, do not pull over. Instead, DPD recommends you put on your flashers, continue to drive the speed limit, and call 911. Dispatch can then verify whether it is indeed an officer behind you.
If dispatch cannot confirm that it’s an actual officer, do not get out of the car. Instead, continue to make your way to the nearest police or fire station.
If you do not have a cell phone to contact dispatch, drive to a well-lit area, like a grocery store, to contact the police.
Impersonating an officer or “Impersonating a Public Servant” is a third-degree felony. If found guilty, a person can end up in jail for two to 10 years. An offender may also be charged a fine of up to $10,000.
According to the Dallas Police Department’s Crime Statistics Dashboard, impersonation fraud is up 33% as the metroplex continues to struggle with high crime rates and the inaction of local leaders, as The Dallas Express covers in its Crime Boss series.
A man in East Texas was arrested in January after pulling over drivers by flashing red and blue lights while using his hand to signal them to the side of the road, according to Tyler Police Department Public Information Officer Andy Erbaugh. An individual called the authorities and followed the suspect, Jason Fears, from Bullard to Tyler.
When Fears was later pulled over for speeding in Tyler, the officer called into the station and was able to put two and two together. Fears was then arrested and charged with impersonating an officer.
The local police booked Fears in Smith County Jail. He posted his bond the next day.
Elsewhere in the country, a Minnesota man went viral on TikTok after claiming to be a Homeland Security Security agent. Reyel Devon Simmons, 53, claimed to be a federal agent to over 10,000 of his followers on the app. Simmons wore law enforcement gear, a radio, a badge, and what appeared to be a rifle, according to Insider.
Simmons’ social media identity backfired when he started dating a woman he met on TikTok, Insider reported. The complaint filed against him by the Department of Justice mentions that the woman testified that Simmons told her he was working on an undercover assignment, carried a go bag, and used a radio with which he claimed to be communicating with other agents.
Growing suspicious, the woman reported him to the police. He pleaded guilty to two charges and was sentenced to six years in prison.