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Sam Penrod ReportingThere was an unusual sight on the freeway today, a police car pulled over by another officer. Only Eyewitness News was there when the real police found out the man was a fake.
The wannabe was caught because he turned on his siren to catch a driver who'd cut him off in traffic. But while he may have had all the equipment of a real officer, he was only impersonating one.
When we drove by around lunchtime today, we could tell we needed to stop and see what was going on. It turns out the car is outfitted better than many real patrol cars. Police call it very serious because someone even appearing to be an officer or emergency vehicle can violate the public's trust.
From a distance the car looks like an emergency vehicle. Even up close with the light bar, EMT insignia on the license plate and all of the lights in the back window the car looks very official. But to an Orem police officer, something wasn't right.
Officer Tom Wallace, Orem Police Dept. "I was stopped at the round about at UVSC and heard a siren and was actually waiting to enter the round-about when I saw a privately owned vehicle come around with a light bar and lights in the window."
The car got on the freeway and finally pulled over for Officer Wallace in Lindon. What was inside of the car was a bigger surprise than what was on the outside.
Officer Tom Wallace, Orem Police Dept: "When I approached him I saw a scanner, he has handcuffs in the car, he has a concealed gun permit, and a handgun. He has a wallet badge on him as well as a full siren kit, light kit, with extra lights in the window."
The driver is a 21-year-old Pleasant Grove man who claimed he was on the search and rescue, something that's not true. He told officers he is going to the police academy to become a cop, plans that are now in question.
Officer Tom Wallace, Orem Police Dept "With the gun and the wallet badge and the handcuffs and everything adds up, and even as a police officer if I were to see that off-duty, I would think that he's another police officer."
The man is now headed to court for impersonating a police officer, with immediate orders to strip his car of all of the emergency equipment and to stop using the badge.
Officer Tom Wallace, Orem Police Dept: "He's not a police officer, he's not in any law enforcement, and it's definitely frustrating."
The officers told me today that if you see lights in your rear view mirror, you are required to stop. But if you are concerned something is suspicious, you can ask for a uniformed officer to come to your location and then you should lock your doors. You can also call 911 to verify the officer is legitimate.