A Sedgwick County sheriff’s deputy was in a marked patrol car on a traffic stop early Saturday morning when a Wichita police officer arriving on the scene to provide back-up saw him speed off and suspected he was someone impersonating a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper, authorities said Monday.
The incident occurred shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday on the southbound I-135 ramp connecting with Pawnee, 911 records show.
A Wichita police officer who was arriving reported someone running to an unmarked navy blue Crown Victoria with red lights and speeding off as he arrived. Thinking it may have been a Kansas Highway Patrol car, Wichita police Lt. Doug Nolte said, the officer checked with the patrol’s dispatchers to see if a trooper was working a traffic case in that area.
There wasn’t, so the officer reported a possible impostor.
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Police officers and sheriff’s deputies operate on different radio frequencies, though both agencies use the same dispatch center. The officer didn’t check with dispatchers to see if a deputy was in the area, Nolte said.
According to 911 dispatch records, the deputy pulled over a black Cadillac at 1:16 a.m. because of a traffic violation. Capt. Annette Haga of the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the deputy was in a marked patrol car.
The deputy was in full uniform, including his head gear, which resembles the hat worn by state troopers.
At about the same time, another deputy stopped a vehicle in the area of K-15 and 47th South, which is in the Oaklawn neighborhood, Haga said. The driver of the stolen vehicle ran from the scene.
The deputy on I-135 quickly concluded his traffic stop and left to provide back-up to the deputy on the stolen-vehicle case. The driver of the stolen vehicle was found and arrested at 1:33 a.m. He had an outstanding felony warrant through the Kansas Department of Corrections.
The deputy was unaware that a police officer had mistaken him as a state trooper until he saw a news report of a possible impostor, Haga said. He then notified his supervisor, who contacted police.
The KHP is investigating two stops likely conducted by impostors — one in mid-July northwest of Nashville in Kingman County and another July incident in Miami County where a woman was sexually assaulted.