CPD shares what to do if someone impersonates an officer

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COLUMBIA - Columbia police said if you have a gut instinct that something is not right when you're being pulled over, listen to your suspicions.

After at least one report, CPD is now sharing what drivers should do if they think someone is impersonating an officer.

Public Information Officer Bryana Larimer said even though there's only been one report of an officer impersonation, she wants the public to be aware and alert.

"They were able to get away safely, but this is something that we want to make sure everyone in Columbia recognizes has occurred in our town," she said.

If you feel the person pulling you over may not be an officer, the first step is to turn on your hazards.

"It's gonna indicate to the officer that you recognize you're being pulled over," Larimer said.

Then start slowing down, but don't come to a complete stop until you find a well-lit and populated area to pull over. If you still have suspicions, call 911.

"The 911 operator would be able to let the driver know whether or not it was a legitimate stop," Larimer said.

Larimer said it's not that hard for impersonators to get disguises. It's as easy as walking into a party story and buying a police officer costume.

"It's unfortunate that it is as easily accessible as it is to get your hands on uniforms and things like that," she said.

Another impersonator tactic is to have a light bar on top of their car. CPD light bars are red and blue.

"As a driver, you're not necessarily recognizing what color are those lights, you're just recognizing it seems as though I'm getting pulled over," Larimer said.

Signal 88 General Manager Frank Jenkins said his security company has experienced an impersonator too.

"During the time I've been here in five years, we've had one report," he said. "They came to the door and identified themselves as security."

Jenkins said it's all about getting familiar with who's protecting you.

"If you live on a property and it has security, get to know the security company's uniform," he said. "Get to know what their patrol vehicles look like."

Jenkins said his company will take the necessary precautions if it received another report of an impersonator.

"We would contact law enforcement and send someone to the site to try and identify the person," he said. "If you're ever in doubt about who's at your door, do not open it."

Larimer said police officers are aware drivers might be taking extra precautions when being pulled over. They know it is not an attempt to evade officers.