Tips from CHP: If You See a Cop in the Mirror, Real or Not


In light of recent incidents where motorists within Los Angeles County have encountered individuals impersonating peace officers, the California Highway Patrol offers the following advice:

If you can determine that the vehicle behind you is displaying red lights and/or sounding a siren and is clearly marked as a police vehicle (i.e. black and white with identifying insignia on the driver and passenger door panels), do the following:

• Reduce you speed, pull to the right and stop in a safe location, and lower your window to listen to instructions.

• Turn on your emergency flashers and acknowledge that you see and will yield to the red light.

• If you observe two or more clearly marked police vehicles behind you with red lights operating, pull to the right and stop in a safe location.

If you can’t determine if the police vehicle is legitimate, do the following:

• Turn on your emergency flashers and acknowledge that you see and will yield to the red light.

• Continue driving at a reduced rate of speed until you can safely stop in a well-lighted, public location, preferably where other people are present.

• Stay in your vehicle and wait for the officer to approach your vehicle and issue additional instructions.

• If you are contacted by someone who you believe is impersonating an officer, request to see their identification/badge. You do not need to open your window to see a badge or ID. You should see a uniform, their duty belt and see and hear their police radio.

• Use common sense, if you’re suspicious call 9-1-1 on your cell phone to alert authorities.

While infrequent, there are legitimate traffic stops conducted by unmarked local, state, and or federal agencies. While these types of vehicles can vary in make/model, in many cases you would still see at least one solid red light, a siren as necessary, in addition to the law enforcement officer displaying distinctively marked clothing, a badge, or other credentials. Once the officer positively identifies his/her self, comply with their requests.

If you’ve been contacted or stopped recently by someone you suspect is impersonating a police officer, immediately contact your local Law Enforcement Agency to submit your tip.

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