Tips on handling police impersonators

ENERGY, IL (KFVS) - A cop stops you at a traffic stop, but what are the signs that he or she is an actual officer, or an impersonator?

Energy, Illinois Police Chief, Shawn Ladd said there are certain signs to look for and questions you can ask.

“When the officer approaches the car, nearly any officer that's been well trained is going to identify himself, you shouldn't have to ask, he's going to identify himself,” Ladd said. “But you are certainly entitled to ask for his name, his badge number.”

Questions that one Carbondale resident doesn't take lightly.

“If I'm stopped by an officer, I make sure I look at his badge, and then I want to know what precinct is he from,” Carbondale resident Geraldine Robinson said. “Does he know where the Carbondale office is.”

If you are about to be pulled over do not feel comfortable, Chief Ladd recommends getting to a safe area.

“Reduce your speed. You'd want to probably even turn your hazard lights on, even use a hand signal out the window, that you acknowledge the officer's presence and that you're moving forward.” Chief Ladd said.

Chief Ladd said especially at night, make sure you stop at a well-lit and/or heavily populated area.

If an officer does require you to step out of the vehicle, and you feel uneasy, Chief Ladd said you can let them know that you don't feel comfortable and want to wait for another officer to arrive.

Some police cars are marked, others aren't. Some of the major things to look out for on both types of vehicles are spotlights, municipal police license plates, and also the placement of the lights.

The Energy police chief stated on unmarked vehicles, there will be multiple sets of lights not just on the dashboard, but in front of the car and in the headlights, and sometimes in the grill in the front of the car.

Ladd said that's one of the biggest things to look out for if you are stopped by an unmarked police car.

Ladd said for the most part, municipal, state and county, police agencies, their patrol fleets are marked units.

“By marked they have identifying graphics on the cars that will say police, that will identify the agency. And most will be equipped with exterior light bars on the top,” he said.

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