Officers aggravated "fake cop" may be abusing public trust

Published: May. 15, 2012 at 10:22 PM CDT|Updated: May. 24, 2012 at 3:32 PM CDT
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D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - As the search continues in North Mississippi for a double murder suspect, some South Mississippi police departments are telling officers to be sensitive to public worry about traffic stops.

In recent days, two people have been found shot to death in or near their vehicles. A 74-year-old man on Interstate 55 in Panola County and a 48-year-old woman on Highway 713 in Tunica County.

Authorities believe the killings could be at the hands of someone posing as an officer pulling people over.

On Tuesday, the D'Iberville Police Department told officers to be patient during traffic stops because with all the news coverage about the highway murders people may be a little hesitant to pull over, especially for unmarked cars.

D'Iberville Police Captain Clay Jones said, it's frustrating to know someone may be abusing the public trust since officers work so hard to earn.

"The trust that we hold so dear to us," said Jones. "Really it concerns us so much that we want to let the public know what to do on these traffic stops."

When traffic stops are made by unmarked cars, many departments take extra care to help drivers feel more comfortable.

"We instruct our investigative units, our people that drive unmarked cars, that if they are going to have to stop a vehicle that they call for a marked unit," Jones said. "We clearly display our badges. We clearly wear police uniforms and shirts, but we go that extra step to make sure they understand that we're police officers and everyone is going to leave there safely."

Harrison County Sheriff Melvin Brisolara said, while some people may feel officers using only marked cars would be safer, unmarked cars also play an important role in law enforcement.

"We have to be able to use unmarked vehicles to be able to gather the evidence that we need on some of these criminals out there especially in narcotics cases,"said Sheriff Brisolara. "We can't all be driving around in Crown Victorias with tinted windows and everything else sticking out like a sore thumb."

Officers said it's upsetting when someone poses as an officer to commit crimes.

It's very aggravating because it's law enforcement's reputation on the line," said Sheriff Brisolara. "When you have the bad guy out there abusing it. Yes. It puts a blemish on us that we have to overcome."

Officers gave tips for if an unmarked car tries to pull you over or if it's at night in dark secluded area and you cannot tell if the car is marked or not.

     1. Turn on your hazard and interior lights to acknowledge that you see the officer.

2. Drive slowly to a well lit area where people are around.

3. You can also call 911 and talk to a dispatcher who will know if the traffic stop is legitimate.

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