Real cop or fake cop?

Brittany Schenk

How can you tell the difference?

Imagine driving late at night with a car following close behind. A flashing light on the roof of the car signals you to pull over. This might seem like a routine traffic stop, but the car is unmarked and the driver is not in uniform.

Though the above illustration is fictional, it represents a situation that does occur, but not frequently.

After recent events, John Peach, director of public safety and Kent State police chief, and Lt. Ray Stein from the Kent City Police Department shared advice on how to handle a similar situation.

At 9:00 p.m. on June 27, Kent City Police responded to a call about a disturbance on Franklin Avenue and allegedly found a Ravenna resident recklessly driving and impersonating a police officer outside the Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

When police arrived, Stein said police investigated and charged 30-year-old Mohammad Omar of 874 W. Main St. with a traffic violation. Omar was also summoned to appear in Kent Municipal Court on July 2 for impersonating a police officer.

Both charges are fourth-degree misdemeanors.

Stein said Omar did not attempt to exercise authority as an officer, but did verbalize that he was an authorized policeman.

“It’s a very rare occasion that we get reported to us that someone is assuming the role of a police officer,” Peach said.

When such an incidence does occur, Peach said it is an offense that is annoying to officers.

“It (impersonating an officer) lends itself to giving such a misrepresentation to the public,” said Peach.

Peach and Stein offered suggestions to remain safe and handle the situation appropriately if ever approached by an impostor.

To begin with, always ask police to identify themselves.

Peach said there are times when officers will not be in uniform or they may be dressed appropriately and driving an unmarked vehicle .

“By law, it’s a standard of police officers to display their identification badges upon being asked,” said Peach . “It is a very reasonable request.”

In addition to this, civilians can contact Kent City Police at 330-673-7732 or the Kent State University Police at 330-672-3111 with any questions regarding the legitimacy of an officer.

If a license plate number or description of an officer is obtained, the police can help determine whether the individual is a fake.

“Just use common sense and use the phone,” Stein said.

When dealing with an unmarked vehicle, Stein said to call the police department and request for a marked vehicle to come respond to the incident.

Also, Stein advises to not give any personal information or get into a police vehicle if you’re suspicious of an officer’s identity.

“You should always ask (for ID) and never comply with an officer that says ‘Get in my vehicle’ if they have not properly identified themselves,” said Peach.

Contact news correspondent Brittany Schenk at [email protected].