JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Georgia police investigate sexual assaults involving a suspect impersonating a police officer, News4Jax on Thursday looked into how easy it is to obtain law enforcement supplies and how you can make sure the officer pulling you over is legitimate.
Atlanta police said they're trying to identify a man accused of sexually assaulting a woman while posing as a law enforcement officer.
According to an email from police spokesman Carlos Campos to the Associated Press, one woman said she was stopped while driving in northwest Atlanta early Friday by a man in a dark sedan with a blue light bar on the roof. She said he approached her car and sexually assaulted her.
Campos said the incident is similar to another in neighboring Cobb County the same day.
Two sketches have been completed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's sketch artist.
According to the Atlanta Police Department, the victim in Atlanta provided the description of man wearing skull call and the Cobb victim provided description of man with glasses, a uniformed shirt with a badge, and a police duty belt with a gun, stun gun and radio.
These days, you can easily buy all of that equipment online.
"If I get pulled over, I pull over right away. So that's scary to know that, if this man is doing it, you think he's a police officer," said Teresa Mears, who owns DGG Uniform and Work Apparel.
Mears, who is also a retired police officer, told News4Jax on Thursday that anyone can easily buy law enforcement supplies on Amazon or eBay.
But, she said, there are specific details on a real officer's uniform, such as the patches and the badge, that you can look for.
"Usually, they have the badge, the name plate with their badge and then insignia on the collars identifying what agency they're with," Mears said.
If you are skeptical about the officer pulling you over, Mears suggests you call 911.
"If it's an unmarked car, I would recommend not pulling over," she said. "But it doesn't mean you have to speed off. You can go the speed limit. You can go find a well-lit place, a public place, or you can even get on the phone and call 911 and let them know where you're at."
Mear said the more you know how to identify a phony cop from a real one, the safer you'll be.
She added that, if you see an officer behind you turn their lights on, and the lights are coming from the dashboard, that usually means the officer is driving an unmarked car. If the lights are on top of the car, that usually means the officer is driving a marked patrol car.