(WBAY) - Brown and Marinette County sheriff's offices are investigating reports of a person impersonating a police officer.
At least one of those reports turned out to be false.
The Brown County Sheriff's Office says the first complaint they received was from a person who said they were pulled over in the southern part of the county by a dark-colored sedan with red and blue lights in the windshield.
The sheriff's office posted on Facebook:
"In regard to the report of someone impersonating an officer in conducting a Safer at Home traffic stop, the Sheriff's Office is looking for assistance in identifying the following:
WHITE MALE IN HIS 30'S WITH A SHORT BROWN BEARD WEARING A GREEN UNIFORM AND BLACK BALL CAP WITH NO INSIGNIA. HE HAD A NAME PLATE READING [BENJAMIN], HAD A MIC CLIPPED TO THE FRONT OF HIS SHIRT AND A CLIP LIGHT ON HIS BALL CAP. HE WAS DRIVING A DARK BLUE OR BLACK CHEV IMPALA WITH NO MARKINGS, THE VEHICLE DID HAVE RED AND BLUE LIGHTS ALONG THE WINDSHIELD
The sheriff's office says the second report was at 4 o'clock Wednesday morning. A person entering a convenience store on Webster Ave. in Allouez said she was approached by a clean-shaven, white man in his late 30's or early 40's, wearing a brown uniform that didn't have a patch or identify an agency. Referencing the governor's order, he asked for the woman's working papers. She said she didn't have any, and the man left.
That never happened. The Sheriff's Office says it was made up.
The Sheriff's Office posted this message on Facebook:
"So, much like there are laws and penalties against impersonating a police officer, there are also laws and penalties against filing a false police report. After further investigation, our officers discovered the second report of the police impersonator which occurred in Allouez was a false report.
"People, these are chaotic enough times! Our societal norms are being challenged, our health and safety is being compromised, people are afraid...for anyone to take advantage of our current climate to instigate even more fear is incredibly disheartening!!
"Our officers are working incredibly hard to serve the citizens of our community. We pride ourselves on being professionals and building a foundation of trust with the public. Those who impersonate officers are making our jobs more difficult. Those who are reporting false crimes are taking our attention away from those who need it. Both are punishable and will be treated as such."
The Marinette County Sheriff's Office says a person reported being pulled over north of Wausaukee by a dark SUV with flashing blue strobe lights in the area of its headlights. The impersonator said they wanted the person's work permit to be out. They used a flashlight and the complaintant couldn't see past it, but they didn't think the person was wearing a uniform. The impersonator is described only as being about 5'10" tall and 190 pounds.
The sheriff's office says the second report was similar.
Law enforcement agencies are emphasizing that there is no local travel ban because of the governor's "safer at home" order. Officers will not stop you (see related story).
"There is no need for a permit to be out and about at this time," the Marinette County Sheriff's Office wrote. "It is safer to stay at home, but if you need to go out for anything, you do not need a permit."
The Brown County Sheriff's Office advised, "Brown County WILL NOT be conducting compliance checks for this reason. As always, please be aware of your surroundings and the happenings around you. If you observe suspicious activities, report it to your local authority."
Authorities want you to know that law enforcement officers wear uniforms with badges and patches identifying themselves and their agency. It's less likely you would be stopped by a plain clothed officer but they, too, will carry identification.
In previous cases of police impostors, local law enforcement agencies gave this advice:
- Keep your doors locked
- Ask to see the officer's badge and identification
- Ask the officer to follow you to a public, well-lit area or request a second officer to come to your location
- Call 911 to verify the officer's identification
- Open your window just enough to slip your driver's license and insurance card out
- Do not get out of your car unless others are around
If you are pulled over, it's still important for you to make your intentions known to the officer -- even if you're speaking to them through a window. You don't want to be additionally cited for failing to follow police orders, failure to stop or engaging police in a pursuit.