Police probe phony stopThe Superior Police Department is investigating a report of a man impersonating a police officer within the city.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
The Superior Police Department is investigating a report of a man impersonating a police officer within the city.
A 34-year-old Superior woman reported she was involved in a questionable traffic stop at about 1 a.m. Monday, according to a police report. When she called the 911 center to inquire about it, no records for such a traffic stop could be located for the Superior Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, or the Wisconsin State Patrol, according to a news release by Superior Deputy Chief Nick Alexander.
The stop occurred in the alley just to the east of the post office. The woman reported that a white male in his mid-30s, about 6-feet tall with a light brown mustache and beard, approached her vehicle while it was parked in the alley. He was wearing a Superior Police Department baseball cap, dark dress pants, and a navy blue T-shirt labeled “SPD.” He identified himself as “Officer Darg” and claimed he was stopping the vehicle because it was suspicious.
The woman did not see a police badge or firearm on the man. He was driving a blue car, similar to a Chevrolet Lumina that had flashing blue and red lights in the dashboard area.
The man asked for the woman’s driver’s license, proof of insurance and registration. She gave him the information. The male proceeded to his vehicle and returned a short time later. He claimed that the woman’s insurance was not up to date and then released her from the stop.
The Superior Police Department does not employ anyone named “Officer Darg” and has no records of any law enforcement officer making this traffic stop, according to Alexander. He said the chance of a regular citizen being stopped by a plainclothes officer in an unmarked vehicle is “very rare.” In all cases, officers will display a badge and have a firearm. If in doubt, Alexander said, citizens should ask to see the officer’s badge.
If you suspect you have been stopped, or are being signaled to stop, by someone impersonating an officer you should immediately call “911,” the deputy chief said. Staff there can determine right away if the traffic stop is legitimate. Drivers can also flash their hazard lights and slowly proceed to the police department or a well-lit public place if they are concerned about a stop.
This is the first report in Superior, however another report of persons impersonating a police officer recently occurred in the Northland. A woman driver reported being pulled over by two men who appeared to be impersonating police officers the evening of Jan. 5 near Biwabik, according to the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office.
An incident involving a law enforcement imposter was reported just outside Superior in 2005. An 18-year-old St. Paul woman reported being pulled over by an impersonator in an unmarked white vehicle at the highway rest area just outside of the city on a Saturday night. The alleged officer was wearing a dark uniform with patches and a badge, and a trooper-style hat, the woman told Douglas County Sheriff’s Department deputies. He told her he had received a complaint about drugs being transported in a car that was the same type the woman was driving. She was handcuffed and placed in the back of the unmarked vehicle while the man took a dog from the front seat of the white car and walked around her vehicle. The woman was released after her vehicle was searched.
Deputies contacted area law enforcement agencies, but none had canines or patrols out in white unmarked vehicles that night.
Alexander stressed the best way to determine if a stop is legitimate is to dial “911.”