EL DORADO Ark — For the second time within days, the Union County Ark Sheriff’s Office has received a report about someone impersonating a law enforcement officer pulling over a citizen in a white, unmarked vehicle.
At approximately 11 p.m. on Wednesday a woman called 911 emergency dispatchers and told them that her 15-year-old son was being stopped by what appeared to be an unmarked law enforcement unit with red and blue dashboard lights in the area of Del-Tin Highway and Parnell Road.
Dispatchers confirmed there were no Union County Ark Sheriff’s Office units in the area at the time.
Deputies later spoke with the boy at his residence, and he told them that he pulled onto the parking lot of a business in the 4400 block of Haynesville Highway/ Arkansas 15 to reply to a text message.
When he pulled back onto the highway, he noticed a vehicle approaching him from the south.
The boy said he turned onto Del-Tin Highway, and as he neared the entrance of the Del-Tin Fiber facility, the vehicle, which had also turned onto the Del-Tin Highway, activated red-andblue dashboard lights.
He said he was speaking to his mother at the time to let her know what was happening, and he told her, “This is not the police.”
The boy said he drove back onto the highway, and the suspect then turned off the flashing lights and turned east on Parnell, the boy told deputies.
He described the suspect’s vehicle as white with tinted windows. Deputies said the boy was unable to provide the make of the vehicle.
A similar incident was reported to the sheriff’s office at approximately 8:30 p.m. on July 23 on Parnell Road.
A woman told deputies then that she was stopped by an unmarked, white older model police car with red and blue emergency lights inside the car.
She said a man approached her car with a gun drawn and ordered her to exit the car.
The man then commanded her to place her hands on the hood of her vehicle, and he patted her down.
According to a sheriff’s office report, the suspect told the woman that she matched the description of a Hispanic woman that he was looking for.
The woman said she felt as if the man was sexually assaulting her, telling deputies that the “pat down was more than what she believes is standard.”
The suspect was described as a white man, approximately 40 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall, and clean shaven.
He was reportedly wearing a star-shaped badge on his hip, and he pulled a similar badge from his pocket.
The Union County and the Ouachita County Sheriff’s Offices subsequently issued a BOLO, “be on the lookout” alert, for the suspects’ vehicle.
Sheriff Mike McGough said investigators have identified a person of interest in the case.
“We’ve been getting calls, and I’ve gotten a couple of emails, so people are looking. We hope to get this (case) resolved,” McGough said.
When asked if investigators think the same suspect was involved in both incidents, McGough said, “We can assume so, but until we catch him, it’s hard to tell.”
McGough offered some advice for citizens who are being pulled over and feel uncertain about the situation.
“Pull over in an area where you feel safe. If you’re unsure, crack your windows and don’t unlock the doors. Call 911,” he said.
Citizens who do not feel safe should keep driving to the nearest police department.
“If the officer is real and official, and you don’t stop, you’ll have a whole bunch of police behind you,” the sheriff said. “If not, he is not likely to follow you.”
Unmarked vehicles are used by the sheriff’s office by officers from the Criminal Investigative Division, and most are dark gray, with the exception of a couple that are blue and black, McGough said.
Most of the unmarked vehicles also have a push bumper.
“Our cars have reflective license plates and a badge number that says Union County Sheriff on the front,” McGough said.
“Our lights and sirens are all blue. A lot of departments have blue and red lights, but ours are all blue,” he noted.