Every now and then you see someone posing as a cop as part of the story line in a TV show or movie. They get a costume, flash a fake badge, and get the information they need before disappearing off to do other things. There are never any repercussions. No one ever comes after them for it. If fact, it seems reasonable to assume, if that’s the case, that it isn’t a big deal. But that’s where you’re wrong – it’s a HUGE deal! At least, here in Michigan it is! Which brings us to this story…
Last year, someone complained about how they’d been treated by a few members of the Genesee County Park Rangers at Stepping Stone Falls park near Flint, Michigan. It was downright abusive. Kevin Shanlian, chief of the Genesee County Parks Ranger Division, started an investigation, and came up blank. It hadn’t been one of his rangers. So who was it? That’s the million dollar question.
It was ‘fake cops’ – people pretending to be police officers!
Ever heard of the Genesee County Fire and EMS Media-Genesee County Task Force Blight Agency? That’s what they’re calling themselves – the group of people here in Michigan who dress up as cops and park rangers in Genesee County. According to information discovered during the investigation, the group has been doing this since 2015 in the Flint, MI area – posing as law enforcement officers and interacting with an unsuspecting public. And in some cases, with other law enforcement officials.
So far there’s evidence to suggest that they’ve shown up at crime scenes and vehicle crashes dressed like cops. In some cases they’ve threatened people, conducted false arrests, and fooled EMTs on scene into believing they were real police officers. In several cases, they’ve been the first to respond to 911 calls, and when the real police officers arrived, officers believed the imposters were also cops, and assigned them duties at the crime scene.
Some members of the group are facing charges.
So far, three members of the Genesee County Fire and EMS Media-Genesee County Task Force Blight Agency have been arrested. Emily Nicole Burrison, 27, of Burton, Jeffrey Lee Jones, 29, of Flint, MI and someone named Auston Rose, although no details about him have been released. According to court documents, there are still at least five other people involved in this criminal activity, but they haven’t been arrested yet.
At this point you may be asking ‘why?’ Why did this group of people dress up like police officers and show up at crime scenes around Genesee County? According to Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton in an interview with MLive, “The only thing that we were able to determine is that they thought they were doing good Samaritan work and helping the police and doing a good turn for the community, but you cannot impersonate a police officer. That’s a crime!” In addition to being a crime, it’s downright dangerous. Without the extensive training that police officers in Michigan are required to have, an imposter has no way to understand how to react to a dangerous situation. Those fake cops endanger themselves and the rest of us innocent bystanders.
Impersonating a police officer in Michigan is against the law!
Regardless of what the motivation here was, impersonating a police officer is illegal in Michigan. In fact, Impersonating a Peace Officer to Commit a Crime is a felony under Michigan law, and is punishable by up to four years in prison. According to federal law, a person is guilty of a third degree felony if they “knowingly purport to exercise any function of a public servant or of a public office, including that of a judge and court…” So there you have it – impersonating a police officer for any reason is against state and federal law, and will land you in hot water!
If you or a loved one have been arrested for impersonating a cop, or for any other crime in Michigan, like Assault, Fraud, or Drug-related crimes, call The Kronzek Firm now. Our highly experienced criminal defense attorneys have decades of experience successfully defending the people of Michigan against all kinds of criminal charges. We are available 24/7 at 866 766 5245 (866 7No Jail). So give us a call and get started on building a strong defense.