Editor: Shannon Cottongame
April 13, 2022
Authorities offer safety tips for drivers…
The Hill County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a report of a man impersonating a law enforcement officer and attempting contact with a driver on Interstate 35.
The incident occurred on Friday, April 1, when authorities say a man driving a black sport-utility vehicle with flashing internal lights pulled a 19-year-old female college student over on the interstate near Abbott.
When the driver became suspicious of the man’s badge, she called 9-1-1, and the man reportedly told her that he was going to call for backup and fled the scene.
Hill County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Kevin Hughes said that the suspect is identified as a dark-skinned man, possibly Hispanic or Middle Eastern. He is believed to be approximately 5’8” to 5’10”, around 220 pounds with medium length brown hair.
He was dressed in black and had an unknown tattoo on his left forearm. He was also wearing a gold hoop earring in each ear and a navy blue New York Yankees baseball cap.
Sgt. Hughes said that the driver did not see a gun, but the man was wearing a police-style belt with a holster and had pepper spray, a flashlight and handcuff case.
The vehicle is described as black with dark window tint, black tire rims and no logos. Law enforcement has not confirmed reports from social media providing a partial license plate number, but that is being looked into, according to the sheriff’s office.
Sgt. Hughes said that the driver handled the situation well but offered a few additional tips for those who are suspicious of a vehicle attempting to pull them over.
He said that anyone who feels unsafe or unsure about a traffic stop is advised to turn on their hazard lights, roll their window down a little and wave to acknowledge the officer, slow down to 10 or 15 miles under the speed limit and, when safe to do so, call 9-1-1.
Sgt. Hughes said that a dispatcher should be able to determine fairly quickly whether a law enforcement officer is attempting a traffic stop on your vehicle.
“In any case, remain calm and stay on the line with the dispatcher,” Sgt. Hughes said. “If it isn’t a real officer, we will be routing one to you, and if it is, the dispatcher can remain on the line until the officer identifies themselves.”
In the event that a driver is unable to make a phone call, Sgt. Hughes said the instructions remain the same with the exception of calling 9-1-1. Continue to drive in a slow and safe manner, signaling lane changes and turns, and find the nearest well-lit and well-populated area, like a restaurant or convenience store.
He added that a real officer will understand the safety concerns, especially if the driver has made contact with a dispatcher.
In this instance, the driver’s parents had reportedly advised her to ask for a badge number when pulled over, but Sgt. Hughes said that it is important to note that while not every officer has a badge number, all law enforcement officers will have a photo identification. “Any legitimate officer will be happy to show you their identification,” he said.
Sgt. Hughes said that this is the first report the sheriff’s office has had of an incident like this in over two years, and the last report turned out to be a real officer.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Sgt. Hughes at the Hill County Sheriff’s Office at 254-582-5313 extension 235.