OPP investigating man impersonating police officer in Lakeshore
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Essex County OPP are investigating a report of a man impersonating a police officer in Lakeshore.
The crime unit is investigating an incident that took place on April 23.
Around 9 p.m., a woman says she was driving on Naylor Side Road near the intersection of North Talbot Road and was pulled over by a vehicle with red and blue flashing lights.
A man allegedly approached the driver's side window wearing clothing resembling the uniform of a police officer.
The person was described as white, approximately 30 to 40 years old, tall and fit, having short brown hair and a scruffy beard.
Through extensive investigation, police say they confirmed that the individual involved was not a police officer and the OPP is asking for assistance in identifying him.
Brendan Byrne is Lakeshore resident who lives down the street from where the incident occurred. He says during this his 12 years in the neighbourhood, he has never had any issues with crime and safety.
“It was very random and you’re scared of course because there are kids on the street. We’ve got kids here and you don’t want anything like that in your backyard.”
It was just over a week ago when a gunman posing as a RCMP officer went on a rampage in Nova Scotia, tragically taking the lives of 22 victims.
“You can’t help to make that connection at first because it’s so tragic and recent. You hope it’s something that would never happen in your neighborhood,” says Byrne.
Former OPP commissioner and CTV’s public safety analyst Chris Lewis says police have always taken crimes of this sort very seriously, but even more so now given the recent shooting in Nova Scotia.
“It’s very serious because you never really know what the intent to be a police officer is,” says Lewis.
Over the years he’s has seen people impersonate cops because they’re on a power trip and want to warn people for speeding or as an aid for robberies.
He says there are no laws against owning a police car or uniform. When police cars are no longer in use, they decals are taken off and are auctioned off.
“What there is laws against is using something that looks like a police car to your own benefit; trying to arrest somebody or trying to impersonate an officer,” says Lewis.
He wants to remind the public the likeliness of a police impersonation is very slim.
“From the time children start school we try to teach them that police officers are safe and to go to the police when they feel they are in danger in some way,” he adds. “It’s really sad that any of this is changing that. We have to remember that still police officers and police cars, the vast majority of times are there to help.”
However, if there is reason to suspect the validity of a police officer, Lewis suggests slowing down and pulling over to a well-lit area or public place.
“Call the 911 dispatcher and try to have it dealt with. Ask for identification, even if the police officer is in uniform you can ask for ID. Ask for their name, badge number, what department they’re with to see if that matches the insignias their wearing on their uniforms.”
The OPP is asking anyone having information regarding this incident or who can assist with the identification of this individual and/or vehicle contact them at 519-723-2491 or 1-888-310-1122. Should you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or leave an anonymous online message at www.catchcrooks.com where you may be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $2,000.