Wichita police hope movie about fake cops won’t spur impersonation cases

08/17/2014 5:50 PM

08/17/2014 5:50 PM

There have been only a few cases of people impersonating law enforcement officers around Wichita this year. Police officials hope the movie “Let’s Be Cops” doesn’t change that.

In the just-released comedy, two bumbling pals dress up as police officers for a costume party and later pretend to be genuine law enforcement officers.

“I think we would hope people would use common sense and not do that,” Wichita Police Lt. James Espinoza said.

Impersonating a law enforcement officer is not funny, he said. In fact, offenders can be charged with a felony if they use the impersonation to get something from a victim.

“It’s not really a joke or a laughing matter,” Espinoza said.

Along with having a felony on their record, defendants can face potential prison time upon conviction.

“Let’s Be Cops” hits the nation’s theaters during a welcome lull in those cases in Wichita. There have been four cases of false impersonation as of July 31, compared to 17 in all of last year, nine in 2012 and 19 in 2011.

Two men arrested in April 2013 on suspicion of impersonating law enforcement officers may have been responsible for numerous previous incidents, authorities said at the time.

“We don’t like it when people are impersonating officers,” Capt. Doug Nolte said at the time of the arrests. “It’s frustrating, because it hinders our job.”

Anyone who has questions about whether a law enforcement officer is genuine can call 911 or the local patrol bureau to confirm that, Espinoza said.

Espinoza said police officials will be watching to see whether impersonation cases jump between now and the end of the year.

“We’re going to hear about some, I’m sure,” he said.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.

Numbers to call

If uncertain about law enforcement officer’s credentials:

Patrol North: 316-350-3400

Patrol South: 316-350-3440

Patrol West: 316-350-3460

Patrol East: 316-350-3420

Source: Wichita Police Department

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