Dear PoP – Watch Out for Fake Badges

Photo from PoPville Flickr user AWard Tour

“Dear PoP,

Yesterday as I was driving to work heading East on Monroe from 14th, there was construction filling in old potholes from New Hampshire Ave to 13th so traffic was diverted.

I was the first car at the light, waiting with my blinker on to turn, and from the opposite side of the street where the construction was, a green mini van darted into traffic when the light changed and I was in the process of turning. After hitting my horn to alert him, as he was not at the intersection when the light changed, and did not use his blinker to indicate where he was heading, he proceeded to follow me for several blocks around Petworth.

At one point I looked back to see if he was still there, and he was holding a badge towards the windshield. At first I thought I should stop, but luckily my morning coffee kicked in!

He was driving an unmarked green mini van, and there were not any emergency lights anywhere on his vehicle. I decided to continue driving and he drove in another direction.

After arriving at work, I called the police precinct on Park Road, who told me the next time that happens to call 911 and not to stop. I would have done that, but for some reason I had my cell phone in the back of the car that day. Lesson definitely learned!

I have heard about people flashing fake badges before, but having this happen on my way to work yesterday morning really woke me up! Usually I am a bit more aware of what is happening around me and can react accordingly. I am hoping you will post this to remind readers of the strange things that can and do happen every day, and that we will all remember to think quickly and safely if something does occur.”

Good lord that is scary. Good advice. If you’re not sure call 911 immediately!

8 Comment

  • I don’t even know what to say about this. Totally effin scary. What are people’s normal procedures even if a true cop car pulls you over? Do you check for “official” flashing lights if it’s an unmarked car, a uniform, a badge (and do you examine it)?? I guess I never thought about this scenario. I will anytime I’m being pulled over for the rest of my life, though!

  • I believe we have the right to keep driving until we reach a place where we feel safe enough to pull over.

  • Umm. Yeah. It could have been an attempt to use a fake badge and have you stop. For your safety go ahead and call 911. It is more likely that it was one of a myriad of federal or local law enforcement officers in the area. Possibly he was angry at your driving and used his badge to intimdate you.

    • Even if this was a real federal or local law enforcement officer, why should they feel they have the right to intimidate citizens, especially when they are the ones not following the law.

      On the other hand, I have seen DC police officers talking on their cell phones while driving their DC Police car.

      GO figure!

      • Police Officers in the district are permitted to talk on their cell phones while driving their police car.

  • You are not required to pull over for an unmarked police car. If you don’t feel safe, call 911 and tell them an unmarked car with flashing lights is trying to pull you over, or drive directly to a police station. A real cop will radio for marked back-up once he/she sees that you are not going to pull over.

  • the car did not have flashing lights in this situation.

  • I’m a MPD officer and I’ll tell you this- DO NOT stop for someone who flashes a badge through a window. Definitely to not stop someone driving a hooptie minivan in the middle of the hood flashing a badge. The MPD General Orders state that an officer shall not try not to effect a traffic stop off duty in an unmarked vehicle without emergency lights unless the circumstances are dire. If it’s so important to stop you, they’ll either jump on the radio if they have it or they’ll call in a lookout and follow you until you get stopped by a marked car. If this happens, get the tag of the vehicle trying this, call 911 and we’ll get the call to come out and investigate what’s going on. Give a good description of the vehicle

    What are people’s normal procedures even if a true cop car pulls you over? Do you check for “official” flashing lights if it’s an unmarked car, a uniform, a badge

    There are unmarked cars, and they’ll have emergency lights and sirens inside the vehicle/grill and even the plainclothes officers/vice units will have vests, radios and a badge clearly visible. However, unless you’re really, really suspicious, unmarked units probably aren’t pulling you over for traffic violations in the city.

    If you do get stopped, all MPD officers are required per General Order to carry their badge and ID while in the city limits either off duty or on. They’re required to have a badge visible and provide a name and badge number upon request of a citizen.

    It is more likely that it was one of a myriad of federal or local law enforcement officers in the area.

    That, or a Special Police Officer (i.e. security guard that can carry a gun.). Many SPOs carry a badge that resembles an MPD badge, which pisses me off. It might have been a fed, which annoys me because many of them don’t know anything about real policing beyond force protection and try to flex and act like they know how to police the streets.

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