Tuesday, October 11, 2016

TOP STORY >> Phony police patrol

Leader staff writer

Last week, two women reported two separate incidents to the Jacksonville Police Department involving a man dressed as or impersonating a police officer.

Both victims were followed from the Sherwood area into Jacksonville, according to an Monday department press release.

Then, this past weekend, a Sherwood woman reported a similar incident.

None of the three women reported an assault.

While driving her vehicle on Hwy. 107 near Base Meadows subdivision at 11:30 p.m., Kristina Wright of Sherwood told Sherwood Police Officer Robert Nance that the white car that was following her turned on “a blue light.”

She reported that she pulled over but was suspicious and when the man directed her to exit her car, Wright said she refused.

The suspect claimed to be a Sherwood police officer and again demanded she exit the car; instead, she put her car in gear and drove away.

She described the suspect’s car as white with no markings on the outside.

Sgt. Jason Hopkins, over the Sherwood Police Department’s Professional Standards Office, said although there are some reported differences, Sherwood detectives are talking to the Jacksonville Police Department about similarities in the three cases.

The Jacksonville Police Department reports their suspect is reported to be a white male with short brown hair and driving a silver or gray pickup truck.

The Sherwood suspect was reported “as having tan skin, possibly a Hispanic or light-skinned African-American” and driving a car.

As of 3 p.m. yesterday, the Jacksonville Police Department had not responded to inquiries about the date, time and location of the two incidents that occurred within the Jacksonville city limits or whether the department considered the suspect a potential sexual predator.

Hopkins said, “We don’t generally pull people over in unmarked cars,” but if for some reason an unmarked car is used, he said there would be no question whether it was a police vehicle or not.

“There are flashing lights across the dash and it’s so bright that you can tell it’s police,” he said.

Most often, if an unmarked car is used, it’s accompanied by a marked car, he said.

Hopkins said any driver who isn’t sure if it’s a law enforcement vehicle or not should drive until reaching a well-lighted, well-populated area before pulling over.

Also, if the driver has a cell phone, call 911. The dispatch operator can find out whether it’s an official police stop or not, Hopkins said.

The Jacksonville Police Department stated in its press release, “Any female who believes they are being followed, or where an unknown male subject has approached their residence, should report it to their local law enforcement agency.”