Another Police Impersonation Incident Renews Call For Citizen Vigilance

SNOW HILL — Worcester County Sheriff’s deputies on Thursday are investigating another alleged case of police officer impersonation following a phony traffic stop near Snow Hill late Wednesday night, the second similar case this month.

Around 10:45 p.m. on Wednesday, a female driver reported being stopped by a sedan with red and blue flashing lights on Route 12 in the area of Carmean Road just north of Snow Hill. The suspect told the victim she had been speeding and demanded her license and registration.

The female victim told sheriff’s deputies she became suspicious when he badge said only “police” and did not include the name of a specific agency or any other familiar identifiers for police officers. The victim described the suspect as a white male, roughly 5’6” and heavy set.

The suspect was wearing a brown button-up shirt with the badge on his left chest. The female victim sped off after becoming suspicious, possibly running over the suspect’s foot. Anyone with information about the incident or who may also have been stopped in the area is urged to contact the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office at 410-632-1111.

Wednesday night’s incident was the second case of police officer impersonation reported in Worcester County this month.

Around 6 p.m. on Dec. 1, Maryland State Police troopers from the Salisbury barrack responded to a 911 call from a female victim, a 38-year-old pregnant woman from Brooklyn, N.Y., who told police she was driving away from the location in Worcester County where she had reportedly been pulled over, assaulted and robbed by three suspects posing as police officers. The victim was told to pull over and MSP troopers would locate her.

MSP troopers found the victim in the area of Powellville Road and Webb Road in Wicomico County. The investigation revealed the victim had been pulled over in the area of Whiton Road and Snow Hill Road in Worcester County. After the incident, she began to drive away from the area before calling police.

The victim told police she was driving from New York to Norfolk, Va. in a rented vehicle. She told police the suspect’s vehicle activated red and blue lights and she pulled over, believing it was a police vehicle. The victim said the first suspect approached her vehicle and sprayed pepper spray into the driver’s side window before spraying more pepper spray into a towel and holding it over her face.

The victim told police she then got out of the vehicle and punched in the stomach by the first suspect. The victim told police the second suspect was standing nearby, holding a black handgun and wearing a gold badge on a chain around his neck. The victim said the second suspect then stole her purse, which contained cash, along with an ornately jeweled belt of significant value.

The victim told police a third suspect remained near the rear of the suspects’ vehicle during the incident. The three suspects then left the scene in their vehicle. Law enforcement officials searched the area to no avail. The victim was treated for exposure to pepper spray and was examined at Peninsula Regional Medical Center before being released.

Meanwhile, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office has issued a few safety tips to avoid being pulled over by suspects impersonating police officers that bear repeating. If one has a cellular device, call 911 immediately and give the location and answer the questions of the dispatcher. The dispatcher should be able to check with local and state officials to make sure it’s an official police vehicle.

The Sheriff’s Office reminds potential victims to not stop unless directed to by the dispatcher. The dispatchers will stay on the line with potential victims and it is not illegal to use a cell phone while driving in an emergency. Potential victims are urged to activate their own emergency flashers and slow down. Drivers are not urged to speed up or drive erratically unless they are in immediate danger. Also, it’s always a good idea to drive to a well-lit public place when getting pulled over if possible.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.