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Are People Pretending To Be Police Officers?

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2023 | Police & You |

The relationship between the police and the community they serve is supposed to be based on trust. High-profile incidents of police misconduct have shaken that trust in recent years. And, as if that weren’t bad enough, there have also been some high-profile incidents in which people commit crimes while pretending to be police officers.

Restaurant owner shot

According to news reports, a Detroit restaurant owner was shot recently by a man who claimed to be a police officer.

Reportedly, one day in December, the restaurant owner was driving to his business when another driver followed him into his restaurant’s parking lot. An argument ensued, and the second man shot the restaurant owner in the shoulder. He was taken to a nearby hospital with a wound that was not considered life-threatening.

A few days after the incident, a 38-year-old suspect in the shooting turned himself in to the authorities. He now faces multiple charges, including felonious assault, assault with intent to murder, four felony firearms violations and impersonating a police officer to commit a crime.

Impersonating a police officer

Impersonating a police officer or any public official is a crime under Michigan law when it affects other people or property. The crime is treated as a misdemeanor and can carry a jail sentence of up to one year. Prosecutors can file the charge on top of any other charges related to the incident.

For example, imagine a person claims to be a police officer, tells a person they are under arrest, and then handcuffs them. The police impersonator then steals the person’s wallet.

In this example, the police impersonator can be charged with impersonating a police officer, false imprisonment, robbery and perhaps other crimes.

Be wary

There are many reasons to be wary of people who say they are police officers. Not the least among them is the fact that some of them may not actually be police officers.

Still, those who are accused of impersonating a police officer must be presumed innocent until proven guilty. They have the right to a defense, and should seek out the best criminal defense attorney they can find.