TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) The Tucson Police Department arrested a man they say was making traffic stops and pretending to be a police officer. Now investigators are hoping the unidentified victims will come forward.
Police say the suspect, a man in his 30's who has not been identified to the public yet, was driving a white foor-door sedan with flashing red and blue lights and his own dash camera.
The suspect was arrested, booked into the jail then released, according to TPD. He is facing felony charges including three counts of kidnapping and impersonating a police officer.
TPD is not yet releasing the suspect's name or showing his face because they say detectives need to interview additional victims. Investigators say they want those people to come forward and give information about what happened based on their own memory, not what they may have seen on the news.
According to Sgt. Pete Dugan, on December 19th police got a call from a group of three men that said a man claiming to be an undercover police officer stopped them. One of the victims was put in handcuffs. When the police impersonator let them go, the victim asked if he could unlock his handcuffs. The suspect said he lost the key and suggested the man go to the police station.
The men then called 911.
Based on what the victims told investigators and other information obtained by TPD, they were able to locate the suspect at a home in Oro Valley. They served a search warrant at the home and obtained the dash cam video and found his car.
According to the video, it appears that on December 19th the suspect interacted with at least four cars. TPD says they were all on the southside and in at least two instances near 10th and 40th Avenue.
Police found the suspect's car and other instruments they say were used in the scam, including a baton. Sgt. Dugan says it appears he had a police scanner on in the car while he was making stops.
In the audio you can hear the man asking a few people if they were carrying drugs. Sgt. Dugan says at this point it's hard to say what the man's motives were, but based on the video it looks like he has been watching police and is trying to copy their behavior.
Sgt. Dugan says the scary part is is they don't know how many times he may have done this. They did not find the man with a gun.
"We did not find a weapon, but again anybody who is pretending to be an officer or pretending to be an officer you got to assume they are possibly armed," Sgt. Dugan said.
Thankfully in the four incidents there was no real violence used, Sgt. Dugan said, except for the one man who was handcuffed.
The suspect could face additional charges.
Tucson Police have still not been able to reach all of the people that were seen in the dash cam videos. The department is asking anyone who has been stopped or pulled over by someone in a white vehicle that seemed suspicious to call (520) 719-2002, extension 723.
TPD says they do have officers on the streets in plain clothes who will occasionally make traffic stops. However the department says all officers carry a badge and police identification with them at all times.
If you believe you're being stopped by a fraudulent officer you can call 911 to confirm.
"Every officer that does a traffic stop immediately gets on the radio and calls it out before the stop is actually conducted," Dugan said. "So somebody from 911, a 911 operator, will be able to tell you right away, 'yes that is a legitimate police officer. He's called it in you need to stop.'"