A 40-year-old man was arrested late Thursday night on suspicion of impersonating an officer after he was seen chasing another car using flashing lights and a siren in southwest Wichita, authorities said.
A patrol officer spotted the northbound maroon Grand Marquis approaching him at “a very high rate of speed” in the 2300 block of South West Street at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Lt. Steve Kenney said. He immediately turned around and flipped on his own lights and siren.
That prompted the suspect to shut off his vehicle’s lights and siren and turn into a private drive, Kenney said.
Upon questioning, the suspect told the officer he was attempting to pull over a motorist who had run a red light. The officer found red and blue emergency lights mounted on the car’s dash and a siren, along with a baton, handcuffs and police scanner.
The suspect also had a BB gun in his possession. He was booked into jail on suspicion of numerous offenses.
He is a suspect in two incidents of someone impersonating an officer over the past year, Kenney said – on Kellogg in January and on 21st Street last April.
But the man is not linked to the report of an armed robbery by a man in a Wichita police uniform in the 900 block of South Doreen in southeast Wichita on Jan. 18, Kenney said. The man arrested Thursday night, he said, does not match the description of the perpetrator given by the woman pulled over on Doreen.
“Buying the equipment and buying the uniform would be very easy to do,” Kenney said, citing police supply stores and the Internet. “The only thing that would be unique would be our patch and our badge.”
Some police equipment, “you can’t legally possess it,” he said. State law permits sirens on only authorized emergency vehicles, for example.
Cases of people impersonating law enforcement officers carry a danger, Kenney said, because in places where it has happened a lot “citizens stopped responding to true officers in their emergency equipment.”
“That creates an issue,” he said. “That just escalates it for the officer.”
He said anyone who questions the authenticity of a traffic stop can call 911. Dispatchers have the ability to track and monitor the location of every officer and patrol car in the county.
“It’s very easy for us to verify that it is a police officer,” Kenney said.