Law enforcement officials believe at least two of the reports of police impersonators stopping drivers along Colorado’s Front Range and questioning them about the state’s coronavirus stay-at-home order were false, authorities said Wednesday.
A woman who reported an incident with a police impersonator in Aurora on March 25 admitted she made up the story to try to pressure her employer into issuing her documents that showed she was an essential worker, according to a Wednesday statement from 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler’s office.
The woman admitted to fabricating the story after investigators could not find any evidence to support her account after they looked at surveillance footage from cameras in the area where she said the stop happened, according to the statement.
The woman’s tale was one of at least six recent reports of police impersonators across the Front Range, and one of at least two reports that have since been determined to be false.
In Weld County, where the sheriff’s office has taken two reports of police impersonators, one report appears to be false while another appears to be credible, said sheriff’s office spokesman Joe Moylan.
“We’ve spoken to two people, one person sounds totally legitimate, she had detailed information about the encounter, gave us a good description of the suspect and has been really cooperative,” Moylan said. “Another person we think was taking advantage of the information in the media to use it as an excuse to be late or miss work that day.”
He said the sheriff’s office is still investigating the credible report.
In Erie, where a woman told police she was stopped by a police impersonator on March 27, police have run out of active leads in the investigation, Deputy Chief Lee Mathis said Wednesday.
“I don’t have anything to back it up but I don’t have anything to refute it,” he said of the woman’s claim, adding that the mix of true and false reports across the Front Range complicates the investigation.
“That’s what makes it very difficult,” Mathis said. “It’s hard to know. All we can do is investigate what people tell us and ask the community if they see or know anything to let us know.”
Police in Fort Collins and Greeley, which are both investigating reports of police impersonators, did not immediately return requests for comment Wednesday.
In addition to the previously reported incidents, a person in Douglas County was charged with police impersonation on Monday in a case that does not appear to be related to the novel coronavirus, according to the statement from Brauchler’s office.
Local law enforcement agencies have repeatedly said they do not intend to stop drivers to check whether someone is violating the statewide stay-at-home order, which prohibits nonessential travel but allows residents to run errands and make other critical trips.
“No legitimate public health or law enforcement official will ask you for any COVID-19 related paperwork,” the statement from Brauchler’s office said.
Those who think they are being pulled over by someone who is not a legitimate officer should call 911 to confirm whether the stop is real.
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