Blue on Blue: Stemming the tide of police impersonators

The problem of police impersonators is only bound to get worse.  One reason we’re probably going to see more (and more aggressive) police impersonators in coming months and years is due to the fact that there are truly too many unsavory “trainers” out there who will provide training to anyone whose cash is green. 

The more training an impersonator is able to get, the more convincing the movements and body language of an impersonator are likely to be — at least that’s the “worst case scenario” which cops should probably prepare for.

Further, there is an enormous prevalence of retailers whose core business is “paint it black and call it tactical” type of gear.  They just don’t seem to give a hoot who they sell a badge holder to. 

“Due to the fact that our tactics and uniforms are known to everyone, copying us is quite easy,” said my friend and colleague Marty Katz. “Anyone can buy whatever they need to look just like a police officer.”

“It used to be that local cop shops provided police with everything they needed, requiring proper identification to make the purchases,” Eldridge added. “With the demise of these mom-and-pop operations at the hands of the on-line market, such checks no longer exist.”

“To make matters worse,” Katz continued, “some police academies will teach people not hired already by an agency. Change is needed with limited ability to copy uniforms. Movies and television have become reality and reality looks just like film. We gave away our secrets and until we enhance what we do, we are in trouble.”

Finally, while it would be optimal to have a standardized, nationwide law enforcement identification card — one which is as hard to counterfeit as a U.S. Passport — that is not likely to happen anytime soon. 

Next week we’ll feature an interesting column from Tim Dees which states, in part, “it’s the ID card, not just a badge, which tells you the bearer is a real cop.  Badges are easy to come by, but ID cards carry some confirming details about the person described on it — rank, description, serial number, a photo. Problem is, ID cards are fairly easy to manufacture, too, especially if the person that will be examining it doesn’t have anything to compare it to, and might not even know what an ID card from that agency looks like.” 

What are some of your ideas to stem the tide of police impersonators?  Add your comments below or send me an email.  

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor at Large for PoliceOne, providing police training content on a wide range of topics and trends affecting the law enforcement community. Doug is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column, and has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips. Doug hosts the PoliceOne Podcast, Policing Matters, and is the host for PoliceOne Video interviews. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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