The Sheriff's Office is warning citizens to look out for con artists posing as law enforcement officials in order to gain access to personal information and property. These imposters frequently prey upon the elderly and have been particularly active as of late. In fact, in the past year there have been numerous reports of individuals posing as police officers.
Sheriff Bouchard would like citizens to keep these tips in mind to avoid becoming a victim:
- All Law Enforcement Officers carry photo identification with their badges, and are required to display them if asked. Citizens are encouraged to ask for identification as anyone can purchase a new or used badge off the internet.
- Do not be afraid to have the officer hold up the ID so that you can read it. Take the time to read the ID and look for the agency name, picture of the officer, and rank. (Please note: Officers will not allow you to take hold of or otherwise take posession of their identification.)
- Do not be afraid to advise the officer that you intend to call dispatch and verify the officers identity.
- Call 911 if you believe the person at your door is a con artist posing as a Law Enforcement Officer. The Sheriff's Office would much rather come to your home to verify the identity of an officer than be called later to take a report of a crime.
- Remember, if it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Your safety and that of your family and belongings is most important.
Sheriff Bouchard helped to author the bill which was eventually signed into state law as Public Act 314, which restricts the sale, use, and possession of police badges, patches, and uniforms. This Act was passed in late 2005 and became effective 01/01/06. The Act Expands the Prohibition regarding the Selling, Furnishing, or Possessing of Law Enforcement agency patches, badges and uniforms. A copy of the bill is available from the web link listed below.http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2005-2006/publicact/pdf/2005-PA-0314.pdf
Individuals committing offenses relating to PA 314 are a variation of those committed by persons who often pose as utility workers. Sometimes these thieves will work in pairs. One will distract the homeowner while the other searches the house for money and other valuables. Violation of the above Public Act is a misdemeanor.
In addition, it is a misdemeanor for a person to Impersonate a Law Enforcement Officer and a felony if a crime is committed during the impersonation. See the link below for more info on this crime:http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(njctqcij1xfxd555bhwpyj55)/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=mcl-750-215