GEORGE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Authorities in George County are warning the public about a potential threat after a woman was recently pulled over by a man impersonating a police officer.
Officials say the fake traffic stop happened Wednesday evening when a woman was pulled over in a secluded area by an older model black car. The vehicle was unmarked and had blue lights on its dash.
After looking at her personal information, the woman was able to drive off, said Castille, adding that her mother is the one who contacted authorities after being told of the incident.
George County Sheriff's Office is now advising drivers to be cautious, saying there are a few clear ways to determine if an officer is the real deal or a phony.
First of all, says Castille, officers will avoid pulling drivers over in secluded areas if possible. If the area is dark and deserted, Castille says it's okay to drive to a well-lit area that's more populated before pulling over. In that situation, officials recommends calling 911 and letting them know what's going on so they can inform the officer attempting to make the stop. The chief deputy also advises contacting 911 if the driver has any doubts about the officer's credentials or the legitimacy of the stop being made.
"People want to do it just to convince people they're a cop," said Castille. "Other people do it for other motives and stop females only."
George County Sheriff's Office says they've made several stops in the last few days of vehicles that look like they could belong to the suspected cop impersonator, but they haven't found anything yet. They describe the suspect as being about six feet tall with blonde hair.
Residents in the small rural area have been on high alert since Wednesday's traffic stop and are being cautious while police investigate.
"I usually follow traffic laws closely," said Suzanne McKay of Lucedale. "So if a police officer stops me, I'll know for sure whether something's wrong."
In Mississippi, the minimum charge for impersonating a police officer is a misdemeanor. However, if there is a weapon or assault involved, the perpetrator may face felony charges.