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Mar-07-2010 13:29printcomments

Police Impersonator Loose in Oregon

Impersonator takes advantage of Oregon's strange law allowing unmarked police to enforce traffic laws.

Unmarked police car
The suspect drove exactly what police drive, a dark blue or black Charger. Courtesy: tenaflynj.org

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Oregon's highly irresponsible decision to use unmarked police cars in traffic enforcement, is opening the door to new, innocent unsuspecting victims.

Police in Portland say Saturday night at approximately 10:55 p.m., a police impersonator in a blue or black Charger, the exact type of vehicle used by Oregon State Police for secret unmarked car traffic enforcement, stopped a driver on a quiet section of Highway 99E between 1st St NE and the Clackamas County Line, at the Pudding River Bridge.

This dark blue/black Dodge Charger had no markings, and it likely appeared to look just like an OSP unmarked car. It reportedly also had no license plates. The "Police Impersonator" obtained the person's drivers license, registration and insurance information.

Fortunately, after the victim questioned the "Impersonator" he returned the identification and left. The suspect posing as a traffic cop is a white male, 5'11", wearing a dark colored uniform shirt with no patches and a badge.

This impersonator was able to stop the victim using blue internal lights that appeared to be on the passenger side visor or dash. The wheels on the "unmarked" had black rims.

This victim, a 21-year old white male adult, got away; it is unknown how many other victims there may be. It is also not known if the suspect simply moved on when he realized he had pulled over a male driver.

Reality Check

I spoke to a friend in Laguna Beach, California last week about how both Oregon and Washington police use unmarked cars to detain and cite citizens.

He thought I was setting him up for a joke.

"No, they really do that here," I told him.

"Oh come on, what do you mean? You're saying they use unmarked police cars to actually pull people over? They can't do that!"

It is true that California has never given this one to its citizens. In all likelihood, it will never happen. People in California have the courage to stand up to police when they are wrong. So do their politicians.

It was sad to have to explain what these people in the NW are able to get away with to a friend accustomed to a higher degree of logic.

The police here accept the idea of using unmarked cars. They say it makes our streets safer, but don't believe a word of it. The cars impact speed violations by allowing them to trap people, of course, but this story once again proves that their practice of tricking drivers by using unmarked cars is dangerous for people at large.

They would rather write you tickets and spike revenue than make sure a stupid irresponsible gestapo practice is banned like it should be.

For those who disagree, if it was your mother, girlfriend or wife who was faced with a police (or impersonator) pullover in a dark place in the middle of the night, you might feel differently about it.

Police have been known to attack female drivers who chose to drive to a nearby lit public place before pulling over, time and time again. The police get 'angry' and they are in this nation, allowed to outwardly attack people with tasers and whatever they deem appropriate. These are the things we all face because they use unmarked cars in traffic enforcement.

The very moral fabric of freedom that wove this nation together, hangs tattered over these illegitimate law enforcement practices, it's Orwellian when you just take a few seconds to think about it.

If anyone has had similar sightings of this driver, or has reports or additional information, please contact Officer Scott Reilly. (503) 678-1284 x 53.

Gestapo is not a Nazi reference, it is simply 'secret police' in German. The words carry an ominous quality and they should.


Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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Miranda May 14, 2010 9:29 am (Pacific time)

I believe the cops in this city will do anything to pull you over. They profile and profile over and over. I cant count the times i look over and see that a cop is starring at my car just because its a honda or because it looks like a 'race car.' Whatever, its not my fault i fell in passion with cars. And i will be the first to admit i will fight any cops alligations about me or my cars. Because i cannot tell you how many times i have been pulled over for the stupidest s**t. And every time i make the truth be seen and the cop cant do a thing about it. So as far as unmarked police cars go. IDGF! On my reservation a regular cop tried to pull me over, and i stoppd, laughed when he asked me for my license and regrisration. Told him "Are you federal?" And of course, 'No,' was the answer. How dare he try to violate my tribes sovereinty (SP?)?? So unmarked police cars fall into that line of unnecessarry cautions this state thinks we need. I for one will not pull over in the dark of the night, no no. I will not, and as soon as a cop asks anyone that may be riding with me for Identification. That cuts it right there. They try and try to push their rights as much as they can as police officers. And im sick of IT!


Dave May 12, 2010 12:29 pm (Pacific time)

Greetings, Have to say I disagree with you. You bring up a valid concern about police impersonaters, however the concept of using unmarkded police cars, is in my mind a great idea. They catch many ignorant drivers doing stupid things. Unfortunately thier is an abundance of bad drivers in Washington St and Oregon. They are alos useful in deterring street level crimes. If you obey the speed limit and traffic laws you have nothing to worry about from marked or unmarked police cars. Compared to other areas I have lived in, I think that Oregon police are lax in thier enforcement of traffic laws.


Dave May 12, 2010 12:37 pm (Pacific time)

Greetings, You bring up a valid concern in terms of people impersonating police officers, however I disagree with you in terms of unmarked police cars. I think they do a good job of catching idiot drivers doing stupid things.Unfortunately thier is an abundance of bad drivers in Washington St. and Oregon. I see it every day driving to work. Speeders, tailgaters, getting cut-off. I am amazed that thier are not more traffic accidents. If you drive the speed limit and obey traffic signs and laws, you don't have to worry abuot unmarked or marked police cars. In my experience Oregon police officers are lax in enforcing traffic laws. Unmarked cars are also useful in deterring street level crime. Watch the TV show cops, they catch stupid people all the time with the use of unmarked cars.


dude March 8, 2010 3:34 pm (Pacific time)

This unmarked car tactic makes it so easy for rapists and kidnappers to operate that it borders on insanity. (from a public safety perspective) I wonder how many kidnappings and rapes this stupid law is responsible for over the years?

It also conditions the public to accept kidnappings in plain view. Seeing as how the government is so far from legitimate at this point, I can see why they'd want to keep this one around for future use. Private mercs pulling over enemy beligerents I can see it now.

Tim King: Dude, I hadn't even put it into that perspective, it is haunting but seriously on the mark. The notion that anybody can just pull someone over and take them away and that people are conditioned to that, is a very important observation.  A cop earlier wrote that any cop can pull over any person at any time in any car, what a twisted lack of protection that means for us.

Before I lived in Salem I came here to pick up an item that I bought on Ebay.  On Kuebler there was an unmarked car on the side of the road, with a vehicle pulled over in front of it.  Nobody was around, not the cop or the driver, but I swear I think both were in the back seat of the unmarked car.  Its tinted windows were pure black and you could not see inside.  That was my introduction to the place.  I will keep the awareness up on this, I appreciate your comment.   


Frank Ayers March 8, 2010 8:59 am (Pacific time)

I can only wonder what the writer of this article's background is in traffic enforcement and accident statistics. Undercover/unmarked law enforcement vehicles go back to at least the 1930's in Portland. Look it up. This is all about public safety, you always need at one time or another concentrated traffic patrols in various areas to ticket the unsafe drivers. If you did some research and reviewed high accident area's then you would see that law enforcement did what was essential to bring these rates down in those areas. It is a checkers approach, for these unsafe area's pop up all the time. Also any sworn officer, even in his private vehicle can stop a traffic violater and see them ticket or arrested depending on the violation/crime. Following the rules of the road is one good way, statistically, to avoid problems with law enforcement. In terms of law enforcement agencies changing their policies because of this site's stories, now that is delusional. Let's see the evidence. In fact how about a statement from a policy maker in this area.

Tim King: Frank, I have been a reporter for over 20 years and I have likely been around a good deal more grief and tragedy than your average cop has, unless they have been at it for some time.  When this practice started in the 1930's Portland Police had a policy against hiring black officers didn't it?  The KKK was strong here then.  My point is that because a bad practice has been happening for a long time, doesn't excuse it or make it right.  This is the part of the nation that the movie 'Rambo' was set in.  There is a reason for that.  Cops here get away with a lot and they have each other covered in crime and in court and there is little for a person to do.  That's because you guys stick together just like a gang, and you always say that no other cops are wrong.  When you can't police yourselves of these problems, the rest of us never have a chance.  We do however have the opportunity to video tape and document the things that happen.  This is the only thing I know of for people to protect themselves.  When a cop is in the wrong, citizens are screwed.  It happens far too often.  U.S. police have worked hard to create the mythological type of presence.  For example, when most people die a tragic death they are simply buried.  Police in America spend millions traveling in publicly owned cars across the country to pay their respects.  It creates too high of an image.  I recall a funeral with close to a thousand police visitors where the murders themselves, were committed by... another cop!    You are just people like anyone else.  Cops choose to have the dangerous life, but it is all choice.  We commend the good police in this state and nation, and we offer the rest something to be uncomfortable about.  THANK YOU to the Oregon cops who have taken the time to tell me that I am right about unmarked cars, there is at least a small handful of law enforcement who see it the same way,     


Vince, Seattle March 8, 2010 7:29 am (Pacific time)

I almost fell off my chair when I read this. I drive a black Dodge Charger Police package sedan in Seattle. Got it used of course. Had it for 2 years now but never impersonated a cop. Jeez, this story gives me the creeps. I may just sell my car to a cab company now.


Mike March 7, 2010 11:59 pm (Pacific time)

You can't assume they only use one make of car. Several years back I spotted an unmarked car patrolling I-5 north of Salem. It had barely noticible lights on the dash and inside the rear window. I thought it may have been a converted drug seizure vehicle. It was made to look like a typical High School kids sport car.

Tim King: Mike, you never really know, and I suppose that is the point.  It's just a confidence shaker, and I so strongly believe there are better ways to police a state or community.  You have to love how cars sold today are faster than ever, yet people who speed are supposedly such a problem that they require these extreme measures.  I wrote a story once about a green Ford Expedition 'Grandpa truck' complete with a non uniformed officer doing a traffic stop.  It was in concert with a second stop and that was a marked unit, so I knew however suspicious it appeared, that it was a real cop.  The was McMinnville last year.  After the story I never saw it again.  Thanks for your comment.  


Margie March 7, 2010 10:53 pm (Pacific time)

Great article. The scary thing is, if you're scared enough to not pull over and it really was a cop, bad crap can happen! Don't recall where it happened, but the gal was too scared to pull over after hearing that an impostor was around. She even called 911 and stayed on the line with them. The officer STILL went ballistic and arrested her! Scary times where the cops can do as they please. BTW, the OHP are some of the worst on abusing their power, and admitting it to people they stop!


Natalie March 7, 2010 8:42 pm (Pacific time)

Actually, California has unmarked police cars. This week I saw at least 3 police pull-overs involving unmarked cars. I guess Laguna Beach is such a peaceful place, that they don't need to camouflage their police cars. Lucky them..

Tim King: Very sad if that is the case, I was pretty sure it wasn't.  All police agencies use them for detectives and that sort of thing, which is fine, but I am very sorry to hear this Natalie.   


Jordan March 7, 2010 5:14 pm (Pacific time)

Something needs to be done about this. Awesome article. I really like the last line. Well done.


Mike March 7, 2010 4:59 pm (Pacific time)

Who is the writer of this article? No name? I guess if I wrote something like this I wouldn't want my name on it either. The use of unmarked police cars is nothing new. Yes, it's wrong that there are people out there trying to impersonate the police, but blaming the police is way out of line. Find the person doing this and put him in jail.

Tim King: Whoa Mike, I'm moving a little fast today and left my data off the story, but you can bet your badge I'll put my name on this one and I will keep writing about it.  You are so accustomed to this stuff that you don't even question it, that is not my fault but it underscores what everyone's problem is.  Police need to be present on our roads, they need to use their money wisely and buy fewer secret toys.  I hate the countless stories of young women disappearing when the only logical conclusion was a police impersonator.  You guys need to do everything in your power to make this state a better place, but instead you make it a scarier one, where nobody knows what is up or down anymore.  Every individual in this state and nation are afforded the same rights but you guys are the kings of ethnic and criminal profiling and I think you have little respect for our valuable rights as citizens.  There is a trend catching on for Americans to buy small video cameras to protect yourselves from the antics of police, or their impersonators; you never know anymore.  We had a story the other day where a Marion County deputy loses his mind because adult accident victims are smoking cigarettes.  He told them to put them out, when one didn't he went ballistic.  For the record, I am trying to change things, if you haven't figured that out, and we are changing all kinds of things in recent years through our stories.  I want responsible cops, that means in the beginning that they can strap their tax paid badges on in plain site and mark their damned cars like California does.  We will never stop writing about this, and needless to say our stories have impact and they zoom around like pinballs in Oregon police agencies every time I write them.  Sorry I didn't have my name on this, anyone familiar with my work knows that I never hide my identity. 

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