A fake cop in New Mexico picked the wrong people to pull over this week when he chose to stop an unmarked truck with two state police officers inside.
John Shelton, 26, allegedly armed with a pistol on his hip and his experience as an emergency medical tech and a firefighter, detained two undercover officers traveling on a state highway in San Miguel County and was eventually arrested for impersonating an officer, reports The Albuquerque Journal.
Turns out that pretending to be a cop can have real consequences.
Fake Cop, Real Crime
A news release from the New Mexico State Police states that Shelton approached the vehicle dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, and informed the undercover officers that he had pulled them over for speeding, reports The Albuquerque Journal.
In New Mexico, as in all other states, impersonating a peace officer (which includes all law enforcement officers) is a crime. It includes:
- Pretending to be a cop in order to deceive someone, and
- Attempting to perform the "functions" of a peace officer (i.e., arresting or detaining suspects).
Shelton allegedly tried to detain the undercover agents for speeding, which is definitely a function of law enforcement. And because it was an alleged crime committed in the presence of two actual officers, Shelton was rightly arrested.
Pretend Time Ends With Booking
After the officers arrested Shelton, he was booked into jail on a $2,000 cash-only bond, meaning that Shelton will not be released unless someone pays that much in cash to the court.
Higher bail or cash-only requirements are typically set if the suspect is considered a flight risk or has failed to pay fines in previous cases.
In Shelton's case, he may be sitting in the detention center until arraignment, unless a family member or friend can come up with the two grand in cash to bail him out.
More Pretend Cops Still Out There
Outside of New Mexico, there have been a rash of fake cops in places like Chicago, where impersonators have not only pulled over a real officer but also detained and robbed civilians, according to reports.
Make sure that you know how to tell the difference between a real cop and an impersonator by spotting some telltale signs... and never stopping for some dude in a T-shirt.
- Report: Fake officer stopped real police agents (The Associated Press)
- Fake Drug Checkpoints Trick Drivers, but Are They Legal? (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
- Fake Cop Peed In Kid's Hat, Hit On Women (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
- Is it Constitutional to Impersonate a Cop After U.S. v. Alvarez? (FindLaw's Decided)