Rise of police imposters prompts ID checklist

YOU'RE driving at night, alone, when you see the adrenaline-inducing blue and red lights of a police vehicle flashing in your rear-view mirror.

Being pulled over by police is not a pleasant experience at the best of times, and now a spate of people being stopped by men pretending to be police officers - including an incident at Sapphire Beach recently - has added a new concern to the equation.

So if you think you are being pulled over by someone who is not a police officer, what do you do?

Coffs/Clarence crime manager Detective Inspector Darren Jameson's best advice was to be polite but upfront about any concern of validity.

Insp Jameson said regardless of whether the vehicle was marked or unmarked, people should always indicate an intention to stop, either by reducing speed or putting the indicator on.

Police vehicle lights are always red and blue, and in the case of unmarked vehicles, can include a single blue beacon on the roof.

"If someone gets pulled over at night and is concerned but they indicate that they are stopping, most plain clothes police will understand if they move to somewhere that's a bit more well-lit and populated," he said. "A service station is a great example."

The next step is to look for identification. Insp Jameson said unless there seemed to be some urgency for you to step out of the vehicle, the safest thing to do was to stay in the car with the doors locked.

All police officers carry an official ID badge and should also be able to produce a photographic ID hidden by a flap in the wallet they carry. "If the officer walks up with a full uniform on, they should be identifiable," Insp Jameson said.

"But if I was pulled over in the middle of the night by a vehicle I didn't think was a police vehicle, I wouldn't provide my details or identification until I was happy that the person pulling me over was a police officer. There is no problem in outlining your concerns and having them identify themselves.

"The key is that if you're polite but upfront there should be no concerns by the officer involved."

If they can't produce ID and you are still concerned about your safety, stay in vehicle and dial 000.

"Being concerned that they may or may not be a police officer is not a valid excuse for not complying with police," Insp Jameson said.

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