MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Lakeville Police say they have encountered multiple cases of police impersonators, including one who investigated cases and showed up at crime scenes.
It is troubling trend that Police Chief Jeff Long says is dangerous.
“They have cars that are outfitted like police officers, they have radars, they carry Tasers, they have all sorts of lights on their cars, their license plates are tinted so people can’t see them,” Long said. “They’re clearly trying to come off as a police officer.”
A new bill at the State Capitol would boost the penalties for impersonating a police officer to a gross misdemeanor, and prison time for impersonators who carry a gun.
“If you identify yourself as law enforcement to pull someone over while carrying a gun, that should be a felony!” said Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River.
But the law goes beyond impersonators. It requires security company cars to be white or gray, and it regulates uniform colors and company logos.
The bill also bans any display of stars, badges or shields that could look like law enforcement.
Local security companies who have their own distinctive security brands object to the bill. They say their companies are lumped in with the bad guys.
“Just because he dresses in a uniform that is similar to law enforcement or in some regards similar to security does not make him one of us,” said Mike Seeman, from Midwest Protection Agency. “Penalizing our industry because of his actions doesn’t make any sense to our industry.”
One security company official said Wednesday that just changing the colors of their security company uniforms alone could cost them $78,000 — not to mention the cost of changing cars and the online branding.
Lawmakers hope to figure out in the next day or so how to handle the rising crime of police impersonators, perhaps dealing only with tougher penalties.