Walla Walla police warn of counterfeit cops

Drivers are cautioned that someone driving a car with emergency-style lights and possibly a siren has been pulling over cars.

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WALLA WALLA -- Authorities are cautioning drivers about possible contact by unmarked law enforcement vehicles following a series of complaints over the weekend.

So far three people have reported to the Walla Walla Police Department they were asked to pull over by a vehicle using dash-mounted red and blue emergency-style lights that may have also had a siren, said Walla Walla Police Officer Tim Bennett.

Descriptions of the vehicle ranged from a silver Toyota Camry, to a white "larger" vehicle, to a green vehicle. One witness gave the last three letters of the license plate as "SGB."

Suspect descriptions ranged from "several kids," to two Hispanic men wearing casual clothing, Bennett said.

The contact reportedly occurred Saturday night near Chase Avenue and Poplar Street, Chase and Willard Street and Clinton and Pearson streets, Bennett said.

In each case, no contact was made between those in the purported law enforcement vehicle and the victims. The suspect vehicle in each case drove off. No weapons were displayed or threats made to the victims, Bennett said.

The Police Department offers the following tips when a stop is initiated by an unmarked law enforcement vehicle:

All local agencies utilize some unmarked vehicles by officers. While the majority of officers making traffic stops will be in uniform, detectives and administrative staff may not.

If the purported law enforcement vehicle doesn't look right, try to stop in an area where there is other traffic, lock your doors, and open the window only far enough to speak to the officer until you feel confident with their identity.

There is nothing wrong with asking officers to see their police identification if they are not wearing a department uniform.

If pulled over at night, try to stop in a well-lit and well-traveled area.

If concerned about their identity, ask to call their dispatch center to confirm it or ask if you can follow them to the nearest law enforcement agency, within reason.

Anyone with information about these cases should contact Walla Walla Police at 527-4434 or, after 5:00 p.m., at 527-1960.

Maria P. Gonzalez can be reached at mariagonzalez@wwub.com or 526-8317. Check out her blog at blogs.ublabs.org/schoolhousemissives.

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