KEARNS — In the wake of an 8-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted by a man accused of impersonating an officer, police are warning parents to teach their children how to tell the difference between a real cop and an imposter.
The Unified Police Department offered a few simple tips for parents to discuss with their children as they search for a man accused of sexually assaulting a young girl while she walked home Monday.
"They're going to have an I.D. saying they're an officer for whatever agency he or she works for,” said UPD Det. Ken Hansen. “Even if they're undercover, they're going to have that identification."
People can always call police to confirm an officer's identity as well, he added. But the bottom line is that most undercover officers won't approach kids.
"It's very unlikely that an undercover officer would approach children and mention he or she was going to walk them home,” Hansen said.
I think the children need to know that if they're approached by someone that uses that story that they're a police officer — if it doesn't feel right, they need to run to a trusted person.
–UPD Det. Ken Hansen
If a kid feels unsure of the situation or suspicious, Hansen said they should just run away.
“I think the children need to know that if they're approached by someone that uses that story that they're a police officer — if it doesn't feel right, they need to run to a trusted person,” he said.
Police said that Monday afternoon two girls were walking home from lunch when a man approached them and said he was an officer.
"One of the girls challenged him about being a police officer and he indicated that he was dressed this way because he was an undercover officer and that's how he caught bad guys,” Hansen said.
After walking with them for a short period of time, the man told one of the girls to walk ahead and police say the man then guided the 8-year-old behind a building and sexually assaulted her: "We have a pretty good idea of who we're looking for in terms of their appearance,” he said.
The girl described the man as having bushy brown hair, blue or green eyes, wearing blue pajama pants and had a cut or scar tissue on the corner of his mouth.
The man may live in the area where the assault happened,
or frequents the area, police said, so they're asking for
people to be on alert and report anything suspicious.