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Police warn U of man impersonating officer

November 15, 2000

East Lansing police Capt. Juli Liebler wants to make sure residents know the difference between real police uniforms and vehicles and those of a man posing as a police officer in the area.

A female MSU student was stopped near Albert and M.A.C. avenues on her way to work Saturday by a man impersonating an officer. It was the third reported incident in East Lansing in the last year.

Similar reports were filed on Sept. 19, 1999, and Feb. 19 of this year.

“We believe this is another case of an officer impersonator because the description of the man’s uniform doesn’t match ours, and the officer doesn’t match any of the people working for us,” Liebler said.

The impersonating officer told the woman she had been pulled over because it was a football Saturday and he was making sure people weren’t drinking and driving. Realizing that wasn’t normal procedure and was illegal, she asked to see his badge number. He refused and left the scene.

The woman contacted East Lansing police officials to complain and discovered he wasn’t an officer.

The man is described as white, about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds and heavy set. He is between 35 and 40 years old and slightly balding with dark brown hair.

East Lansing police officers wear dark blue shirts and light blue pants with dark blue stripes. The shoulder of the uniform has a badge with the city emblem and an eagle-shaped badge which appears heart shaped from a distance.

The impersonator’s outfit was the right color scheme, but with an American flag emblem on the right shoulder. His badge was square.

Another inconsistency in the impersonating officer’s scheme is his vehicle.

East Lansing police vehicles are navy blue and have “East Lansing Police” on the side with stripes of green and white. The impersonator’s car only has “East Lansing” written in white along the side, but his vehicle had lights on top making it appear legitimate in a person’s rearview mirror.

“We’ve advised all our officers to be on the lookout for any police officers or cars that don’t look like ours,” Liebler said. “We all work together every day and can pick out someone who doesn’t belong.”

Liebler has also contacted other departments in the area, informing them of the incident and asking them to be on the lookout for suspicious East Lansing police cars or officers, she said.

Impersonating an officer carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $500 fine, Liebler said.

If citizens are worried that an officer may not be real, they can ask to see their city issued police identification cards. The man Saturday did not have one of these cards, Liebler said

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