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How do you know it's a police officer?

Original post made on Dec 6, 2011

After a young woman from Atherton was pulled over last week by what turned out to be a police impersonator who stole her car keys, Atherton police advise that there are several things that can be done to make sure the driver of an unmarked vehicle is really a police officer.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, December 6, 2011, 8:47 AM

Comments (5)

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Posted by Question everything!
a resident of Los Altos
on Dec 6, 2011 at 11:08 am

This is like believing everything we read, just because it's printed in a newspaper so we think it's accurate, without questioning it.

This man had no police uniform? No official looking police car? Just a man in a Honda or a Toyota, with a blue light on its roof?

Stores should be on the alert for two men, ages 27-50, looking to buy a solid red light. Let's think ahead.

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Posted by Ex bayareaian
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2011 at 4:07 pm

I used to live in the bay area, and had to deal with the mindless zombie culture. Then I moved out of state, to a state where personal freedoms are more protected. I work along side officers, and from my own experiences being pulled over as well as from speaking to them, officers are much more polite and less threatening. In a society when individuals can pack more power then the police, where public service funding is at the mercy of the public, and people are generally culturally more respectable, life is way way way better.

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Posted by don't stop
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 6, 2011 at 4:21 pm

I never stop for unmarked police cars. A plain clothes cop is not going to stop you for a minor traffic infraction. If the problem is more serious, they will call marked police cars for backup, then you can stop safely.

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Posted by qq
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 7, 2011 at 12:56 am

If you are being pulled over and don't feel safe, always turn on your safety hazards. This is a simple way of visually acknowledging the officer without stopping (this will hopefully delay the "failure to yield" chase then will inevitable ensue).

You can then either drive to the nearest police station if you know where it is, or dial 911 and ask the operator to verify that an officer is trying to stop you.

This is how they handle it in Austin:

Web Link

"What if I am in a secluded area or want to verify that a real police officer is pulling me over?

When you see the lights flashing, slow down and pull to the right and turn your hazard lights on. This will act as an acknowledgement to the officer. If you have a cell phone, call 911 and tell the operator that you want to verify that an officer is trying to stop you. Listen to the operator’s instructions as to what to do next. If you do not have a cell phone, stop in a well lit/well populated area, lock your door, roll your window down an inch and request the officer provide his/her department issued identification card. All Texas peace officers have a department issued id card.

If you believe that a real officer is trying to stop you but you do not want to stop in a dark area, again slow down, pull to the right and activate your hazards. You can continue to drive until you reach the next well lit area.

The important thing in both of these situations is to acknowledge the officer trying to stop you.

What if I am being stopped by an unmarked police car?
Acknowledge the officer as described above. Call 911 to verify the officer’s identity or stop in a well lit/well populated area and verify the officer’s id as described above."

The more you know...


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Posted by Steve C
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm

I think there is a # you can call from anywhere that will connect you with the local police dispatcher in the area. I think it is *77 or something like that. One of the parents on my son's sports team posted this in an email a couple of years ago, after a similar story hit the newswaves. The dispatcher can then verify if they have an officer reporting that you have been pulled over. Might be worth checking this with the local police department.

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