GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — It's dark. You're on an isolated road. It looks like a police car is pulling you over.
Are you sure it's actually a law enforcement officer?
A New Hope man was recently arrested and charged with impersonating a peace officer. He allegedly altered the lights on his car, pulled a woman over, and tried to take the keys out of the ignition. Leonard Ray Clark was arrested and charged with impersonating a peace officer. He was booked into the Marshall County Jail and later released on a $20,000 bond.
Impersonating a police officer is a Class C felony, according to the Alabama Criminal Code.
When real officers arrived, the man reportedly told them he was an undercover U.S. Marshal officer.
So, if you are pulled over and feel like you're unsafe, here are some steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Put on your flashers, drive the speed limit and call 911 from your cell phone.
- Tell the 911 dispatcher that you are concerned that someone is trying to pull you over in an unmarked car that may not be a police officer. Ask the dispatcher to verify whether the car attempting to pull you over is indeed a law enforcement officer. If you do not have a cell phone, drive to a well-lit, busy area such as the parking lot of a busy store such as a grocery store.
- Do not flee from the vehicle attempting to pull you over.
- Do not stop your vehicle or get out of your vehicle until a dispatcher can confirm you are being pulled over by a legitimate police officer.
- If the dispatcher cannot confirm that you are being pulled over by a police officer, stay on the line with the dispatcher, and ask for police assistance.
- Do not provide personal documents – driver’s license, insurance information or other documents – to someone who you suspect of being a police impersonator.
- If you are issued documents that may be suspicious, contact the issuing agency about their legitimacy.
- Report anything suspicious to police; please don’t wait to make a report.
- Ask the officer for proof of who they are.