How Not to Impersonate a Police Officer

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Meet this future Darwin Award nominee: Anthony Kenneth Mastrogiovanni, who is alleged to have impersonated a police officer but got caught when he tried to pull over an actual police officer. As The Associated Press reports, Maryland Police say Mastrogiovanni turned his flashing lights on his white pickup and pulled over an off-duty officer. When that guy identified himself as a cop, Mastrogiovanni said he was "a military police officer from Louisiana," which is definitely not a reasonable alibi. Is the off-duty officer going to think that, of course, Mastrogiovanni was doing some traffic stops in Maryland. You know, just lending a hand to the under-staffed locals from his white pickup... No, no, this excuse did not work well, particularly when the cop told him that if he were a military officer from Louisiana, he had no jurisdiction in Maryland, and also couldn't use the red-blue flashing lights there. Mastrogiovanni fled, but police caught up with him, and here we are. 

The AP has obviously highlighted this story so we can enjoy Mastrogiovanni's comical misfortune, but it is, in fact, not an isolated practice. WRAL, a local North Carolina station, reported four similar impersonators running traffic stops back in April, and robbing their victims. It pops up elsewhere, too, as in  a February Houston Chronicle story about a suspected police impostor running traffic stops but not robbing the victims, just criticizing some woman's driving. Talk about a power trip!

As drivers, we can imagine the dilemma. When one gets pulled over it doesn't seem like a good idea to openly question whether your officer is actually an officer -- this would be the opposite of the "crying your way to a warning" strategy. But if you get pulled over by "a military police officer from Louisiana" in a white pickup, it's probably best not pay your ticket in cash.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.