Woman says she was patted down by cop impersonator in Columbia

Posted at 11:10 PM, Jun 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-22 23:25:42-04

It's something that's happened to all of us.  We leave somewhere, look in the rearview and see those flashing lights. Most of us, pull over without questions, but what if the person pulling us over, isn't really a police officer?

"It's really scary in this area, we don't have a heavy crime rate," said Howard County resident, Brendan Marr.

A Howard County woman says she was pulled over by a police impersonator along Route 108 in Columbia and then patted down. Police are investigating the incident. 

Drivers we spoke to say they might pull over too in this case.

"I would probably pull over. If I saw lights, I'd probably pull over and try to figure out what was going on because you can't run from the cops!"  said Tracey Powell.

Police say if you're unsure and the cruiser is unmarked, drive to a well-lit, public area with your hazards on, showing you have every intention of pull over. If you're not sure, make a call to dispatch. They can tell you if an officer is following you.

"I'd probably pick up my cell phone. I would definitely be calling and saying you know, I'm pulled over right now, something doesn't sound right," said Powell.

Safety experts say, that's exactly what you should do.  911 dispatch operators can verify that you're indeed in the middle of a genuine stop.

Marr says he never takes chances during a stop.

"My mother was a police officer in Baltimore City so I'm a little more guarded," he said. "The first thing I would do is I would ask for their badge and for their police ID."

Officers say if you're pulled over by a plainclothes officer in an unmarked car, you can request that a uniformed officer respond. But the best advice is to call 911 if you're ever in doubt.