Right here in Beaumont, Texas, we're watching a couple cases of cop impersonators who've stopped unwitting motorists. In one case, the faux cop stopped lone women drivers, asked for their drivers licenses (which have addresses) and, in at least one case, showed up later at the woman's home. A 22-year-old man has been arrested as a suspect in those cases, and is now free on bond.
And over the weekend, the real local police reported another fake-cop encounter: Two men in a white Crown Victoria -- a popular cop car -- used a flashing red light to stop a bicyclist. They emerged from their car brandishing guns and took the man's wallet.
A fourth possible incident is under investigation, but local deputies are mum on details. Maybe nothing happened, or maybe it's a fake fake cop. Who knows?
Cop impersonators aren't funny, but this whole series of news events has had its funny moments.
Shortly after an arrest warrant was issued for the young man in the first two incidents, our reporter looked up his home address on the Internet and called his number. Surprisingly, a man who identified himself as the suspect chatted with her briefly, saying it was all "a misunderstanding." After he hung up, we tried to call the police to let them know their collar was at his home at this moment. But they wouldn't return our calls ... so we just posted our story, saying we'd found a man supposedly the subject of a manhunt at his own house and talked to him. Makes you wonder why the local cops didn't think of that? (Our photographer was actually waiting for them at the suspect's house when they arrived about 30 minutes later.)
A snippy dispatcher later interrogated the reporter about how she got the guy's address. "Yahoo," she said. (She meant the search engine, not a cop.)
News of the armed robbery broke early Sunday. We called the cops early Monday and were told nobody knew anything and to "call back after lunch." We did. But then the cops were all at a party ... a party. It was mid-afternoon before anybody told us anything -- and it was only what was already known. I guess they don't want the public to know there are apparently armed robbers masquerading as cops on our streets. I guess some secrets are best kept ... secret.