ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — A Tennessee man was arrested in Oklahoma after allegedly impersonating a deputy.
19-year-old Jackson Jones is accused of impersonating an officer in the state. He was previously accused of the same thing in Campbell County. Sheriff’s deputies in Oklahoma said they took him into custody after hearing that he stopped several cars while wearing a vest that said “sheriff”.
A question stemming from this incident is what should you do if you’re concerned about being pulled over by someone who is pretending to be a cop?
Anderson County Sheriff Russell Barker said there are serious consequences when impersonating law enforcement.
“I can speak for Anderson County. It’s become a little more prevalent than we’d like. We get reports on it periodically,” he said.
Barker said impersonating a law enforcement officer is a Class A Misdemeanor which can land someone a maximum of 11 months, 29 days in jail, and up to a $2,500 fine.
“The rationale behind it is, who knows, right,” Barker said. “I think you’re dealing with people who, and this is a big step on my part, but you’re clearly dealing with somebody who has some mental health issues.”
He said his deputies know that being stopped by an officer can come with a bit of anxiety which is why he wants people to know the difference between a real officer and a fake one.
“When we make the approach that is kind of standard. One, in Tennessee all law enforcement cars, we’re required to activate our emergency equipment when we make a traffic stop. There can be a combination of blue white and red lights or all blue but you have to have the blue in there.”
Barker said all officers will identify themselves when approaching someone and it is okay to ask them for their credentials. But if you’re too afraid to stop in the first place he explained, “if you’re being pulled over, and you’re unsure that it’s a legitimate police officer, one turn your hazard lights on, slow down, let them know you’re not avoiding, that you recognize that you see them, and then dial 911 speak to dispatch.”
Dispatch can let you know if a traffic stop is happening in your area and if you are safe to stop.
Oklahoma deputies said Jones told them he had just left work in Tennessee and drove to Oklahoma for a job interview, but investigators have not confirmed those claims.
WATE has reached out to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office to find out more about Jones’s former employment with the jail.