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PRATTVILLE, AL (WSFA) -
Authorities are looking for a man who is impersonating a police officer and has pulled over at least one vehicle along the interstate. They're afraid he might make another attempt.
An investigation is under way to find the suspect after he initiated the stop of a 23-year-old female driver along Interstate 65 between Prattville and Clanton. Authorities say the fake officer attempted to get the woman to leave with him.
The woman believed the man was a Prattville police officer, but authorities say he is not. It's a situation Prattville Police Chief Mark Thompson finds very concerning. Chief Thompson says if found, he'll seek to have all possible charges filed against him.
Chief Thompson's department isn't the lead investigator, however. That duty falls to the Autauga County Sheriff's Department since the incident is alleged to have occurred in the county. The incident happened in the evening hours of February 5 just south of the Pine Level exit of Interstate 65 (mile marker 186).
The driver said the man initiated the stop while driving a white Ford Crown Victoria similar to ones legitimate police officers sometimes use. The vehicle had red and blue flashing lights on the dashboard. The woman told police she noticed at one point when the vehicle passed her while she was driving toward Montgomery that it did not have any license plate.
The driver said the "officer" told her he'd pulled her over for speeding. The sheriff's report says the man go in the woman's vehicle through the passenger side and tried to pull her from her own car. The woman fought back and was able to speed away from the scene.
"It's either a wanna-be who gets a thrill out of stopping somebody with the lights, acting like he's law enforcement," Chief Thompson explains, "or it could be a potential way to get women to stop so they could take advantage of them."
The suspect is described as a man in his 50s with white hair that was combed straight back. The driver said the man stood approximately 5'10", weighing around 200 pounds. The man was said to be clean shaven and was last seen wearing a black t-shirt, black cargo pants and a police belt.
Impersonating a police officer is a felony and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
TIPS TO USE WHEN BEING PULLED OVER
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you're being pulled over, always stop in a well lit area. If you have to travel more than a short distance to find such an area, signal to the officer that you are acknowledging them and then keep a consistent speed to the lit area.
If you are unsure of the officer's legitimacy, you can dial 911 to confirm that an officer is indeed initiating a traffic stop on you. If the officer is in an unmarked vehicle, you can request that a marked unit be dispatched.
Leave your emergency flashers on but do not turn off your vehicle.
Make sure your doors are locked and your window is only lowered far enough for adequate communication.
Look for a uniform or official departmental jacket. If the officer is in plainclothes, ask for official identification.
Listen to what the officer is actually saying. Most officers will let you know almost immediately why they've pulled you over. You should be suspicious if they skip preliminary questions and seek to remove you from your vehicle.