LEE COUNTY, Ala. — Lee County investigators urge drivers to exercise extreme caution amid reports of a man impersonating a police officer.
As News 3 reported, a woman tells police she was stopped by a fake officer Thursday morning on North Uniroyal Road in Opelika. Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones says deputies are now looking into the possibility of another sighting Sunday morning.
Jones confirms to News 3 a woman called 911 early Sunday morning before dawn to report a white vehicle with a blue light bar started following behind her on Lee Road 270. She says the vehicle eventually turned as she continued to drive away.
News 3 spoke with the woman on Monday.
She said her car was acting funny Sunday morning when she saw the car behind her. She called 911 about the car, and the operator told her there were no patrols in that area. She was going to pull over eventually, but before she did, the car drove off. She added that the “what if?” thoughts played through her mind.
“If there’s somebody out there who we think is going to help us, but they’re trying to harm us, it hits home with me because I have family in law enforcement,” the woman says. “We’re supposed to trust them, but you don’t know if it’s really an officer or not, but I have a young daughter, and I wouldn’t want anybody to be in that situation.”
Jones says investigators are working to determine if it is the same white Dodge Charger with blue lights that pulled Thursday’s victim over.
“All of us in law enforcement are very concerned about any situation where an individual decides to act as a law enforcement officer, with absolutely no authority to do so, and we will do everything we can to identify and apprehend that individual,” Sheriff Jones says.
Sheriff Jones added that in terms of the blue light, after market lights may be involved, but said it is only a possibility.
“We’re not taking any chances,” Sheriff Jones says. “We’re assuming right off the bat that we may have an individual out there trying to impersonate a law enforcement officer. That’s our first priority. That’s our first concern. We certainly look at the after market lighting issue as part of the whole picture, but our primary concern is the safety of the public. If we’ve got an individual out there impersonating a law enforcement officer, we’re going to do everything we can to get them off the street.”
The man in the first incident was described as a white man, around 6’00” tall, and with a large, muscular build. He reportedly had short blond hair in a “high & tight” style haircut. He was last seen wearing a dark blue short-sleeve shirt and dark blue pants. He had some type of a badge on his shirt. He had a firearm and some type of pepper spray on his belt.
The woman who was pulled over says the man told her to get out of her vehicle so he could perform a search before leaving the scene.
Sheriff Jones says it is unclear if the driver seen Sunday is the same person; however the department is releasing the additional information to remind all drivers to be cautious on the roads.
The Opelika Police Department reminds citizens if a Police Unit tries to stop you, please follow these simple safety tips.
- Turn on your hazard lights and slow down to acknowledge that you see the Police Unit.
- Drive slowly to a well-lit, public place, such as an open business.
- If it is an Opelika Police Officer stopping you, within a few minutes a second back-up unit will usually arrive at the scene.
- OPD says there are some unmarked units that occasionally stop vehicles. These Officers are aware of the safety tips and expect you to move to an open business.
- Do not make any effort to flee from the unit at a high rate of speed.
- You may also call the Dispatch Center at 334-705-5260 and advise them you are being stopped and they will be able to verify if it is indeed an Opelika Police Officer.
The Opelika Police Department advises anyone who may have seen, or been contacted by this suspect to please call our Investigative Services Division at 334-705-5220. You may also call the Secret Witness Hotline at 334-745-8665. You may remain anonymous if you choose.