Highlands County deputies search for suspected cop impersonator

- Officers in both Highlands County and St. Petersburg are each looking for separate police impersonators.

Highlands County deputies have put out a composite of the suspect they’re tracking.

Deputies say just before 6 a.m. Monday morning a woman was riding her bike to work on West Palmetto Street in Avon Park when an unmarked black car pulled up behind her. It had a red and blue flashing light.

“The suspect had a flashlight and hand cuff questioned her and patted her down,” said Highlands County Sheriff’s spokesperson Scott Dressel.

The woman became suspicious and asked for an ID, and that's when the phony cop took off.

“She was pretty shaken up about the whole incident,” Dressel said.

In a separate incident Thursday in St. Petersburg, a man in a police-type car pulled someone over, and asked for their license, and then took off.

“It is very scary when someone poses as a law enforcement officer. Most people are inclined to do what a law enforcement officer says. It’s a situation that can get pretty dangerous,” said Dressel.  

Deputies say if you’re skeptical about the flashing lights behind you, first turn on your hazard lights so officers are aware you’re responding.  Find a well-lit place to pull over, preferably somewhere populated.  Also, use your phone!

“By all means if you’re concerned if it’s a police officer behind you, pick up your cell phone and call 911 and ask the dispatcher,” said Dressel.

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