LAKE PARK, Minn. — Authorities are investigating two incidents on Monday night, Jan. 13, in which a man impersonating a law enforcement officer reportedly forced vehicles to pull over on rural roads in Becker and Clay counties.
According to Clay County Sheriff Mark Empting, a man claiming to be an officer pulled over a person near the intersection of 290th Street North and Junction Avenue about 5 miles east of Hawley on Monday night.
It’s the second such incident reported on the same night, and on Tuesday, Empting had a message for the alleged cop impersonator.
"Stop doing it. Come and talk to us. ... We've got to get those lights out of the vehicle,” he said. "We don't want that person out there doing this. It's dangerous for our public and it's dangerous for that person, too."
The first reported stop happened just north of Lake Park, about 10 miles east of Hawley in Becker County. Sheriff Todd Glander said a woman was traveling north on County Highway 7 when a vehicle in front of her activated white and blue lights in the rear window of what she described as a newer white Jeep.
Believing she was getting stopped by a law officer, she pulled over. Becker County deputies drive white SUVs.
The man in the Jeep approached the driver's side of her vehicle and told her she had a broken tail light. He asked her for identification and also to step out of her vehicle to look at the broken light, said the sheriff.
She thought the man didn't look like a law officer, so she asked if she could see his law enforcement credentials.
The man then went back to his vehicle and left the scene.
The Becker County Sheriff's Office described the man as 25 to 30 years old, 6 feet tall with a goatee beard. The woman told deputies that he was wearing a black winter hat and a dark jacket. He appeared to have a radio microphone on the lapel of his jacket.
Authorities said Tuesday afternoon that the Hawley and Lake Park stops are the two incidents where they believe someone impersonated a law officer. A third report of a Monday night stop near Hitterdal turned out to be an actual cop.
Glander said anyone with information on the driver or vehicle or who has had a similar incident happen to them should contact the sheriff's office at 218-847-2661.
He also said if a person believes they are being stopped by someone who is not a law enforcement officer to call 911 immediately and report the incident.
Empting said deputies and officers almost always wear a badge and are required to present official identification when asked. He added that it is everyone’s right to check if the person pulling them over is an actual officer.
Dispatchers know where officers are, when they make traffic stops and can easily check if a person claiming to be an officer is with a law enforcement agency.