Two parishes investigating police impersonators

Updated: Dec. 8, 2020 at 5:43 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Being pulled over by a police officer can be a stressful situation, but since Friday, December 4, police say people pretending to be police officers have targeted drivers.

“People can get hurt, and believe it or not, this is a common thing that happens in every city,” said former NOPD chief Ronal Serpas.

Serpas said if a driver is being pulled over by a vehicle that has police lights and is unmarked, do not stop. Rather, call 911.

The New Orleans Police Department is asking the public for help in finding two people who committed armed robbery while impersonating police officers. The two dressed as officers, conducted traffic stops and robbed the drivers.

Hours later, NOPD sent out an urgent tweet reminding drivers on how to properly identify a police officer.

  • If being pulled over, drive to a well-lit, populated area.
  • Call 911 and ask if an official police vehicle is pulling you over.
  • Ask to see identification.

“Don’t take a chance,” said Serpas. “I can’t imagine any police department in the galaxy being upset with a citizen who said, ‘I felt uncomfortable, I followed the traffic laws.”

A similar situation happened in St. Bernard Parish. Deputies arresting Ronald Zimmer, 47, of Meraux for impersonating a police officer.

Deputies said Zimmer produced a badge that the driver said was obviously a fake, and according to the arrest report, the two exchanged words and the fake officer drove away.

“There are surveillance cameras all over the city. There are police cameras all over the city,” said Serpas. “If you’re driving slowly and carefully, there’s a very good opportunity that it will be captured on a camera some place.”

And those pictures can help when the case is brought to the district attorney.

Again, if you are being pulled over by an unmarked or suspicious police vehicle, do not stop. Drive slowly and follow traffic laws to a well-lit and populated area. Call 911 and follow the advice from the dispatcher.

Serpas said 911 dispatchers have direct and immediate access to confirm if the driver is being pulled over by a legitimate police officer, or if police need to immediately respond to assist you.

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