UPDATE: ‘Fake police vehicle’ belongs to federal law enforcement agency
Last updated at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23
The Anchorage Police Department says a vehicle initially believed to belong to a civilian purporting to be law enforcement is in fact a federal law enforcement agency vehicle. The vehicle belongs to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
In a statement released Monday evening, police spokeswoman Renee Oistad said the driver of the vehicle was “on official business at the time of the incident,” during which another driver stated he was flipped off and laughed at as the driver sped past him.
“Concerns from the public have been forwarded to the agency,” she wrote.
When first questioned about the agency during a phone interview, Oistad said all inquiries sent to APD would be forwarded to the agency involved, and she would not give the name of the agency.
“I have been instructed to forward all requests, such as yours, to an APD Commander who will then forward them to the agency in question,” she said in response to an email with questions. “That agency has stated they will respond to those requests.”
Doug Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the Seattle Field Division for the ATF, said in a statement to KTVA the agency was “aware of the allegations” and is investigating the situation.
“Further, as a matter of policy, ATF does not comment on personnel matters,” Dawson wrote.
APD spokeswoman Jennifer Castro emailed KTVA late Monday with the following response to the situation:
“The Anchorage Police Department has determined that a vehicle that was initially suspected to have possibly been impersonating law enforcement was in fact not impersonating law enforcement and the vehicle belongs to that of a federal law enforcement agency that operates in the state of Alaska. As this has now turned into a complaint of conduct of a law enforcement employee, APD is respectfully cooperating with that federal agency to allow them to follow their process and procedures for investigating complaints of their personnel. Due to time zone constraints, that federal agency has not been able to reach its top chain of command on the east coast to determine a point of contact for the investigation of this citizen complaint. Once a point of contact has been determined, APD will provide that information to the local media so that they can follow up with inquiries on the investigation.
Originally a citizen had contacted APD on May 20th stating that on the day prior (May 19th) a white SUV with flashing red and blue lights was behind him and as he started to pull over, the driver of the white SUV “flipped him off” and sped past him. The complainant stated they observed the white SUV flash its lights at “two or three other vehicles” as well. The complainant had taken a photo of the rear of the vehicle and provided the license plate number of the SUV. An initial search of the plate number by APD did not show up registered to a vehicle. For safety concerns for the public, APD sent out a notification to citizens to be aware of this SUV and the possible conduct of the driver.
After further investigating the matter, today APD found that the vehicle belongs to a federal law enforcement agency operating in the state of Alaska and APD has forwarded all of its information, including the initial complaint, to this agency so they can conduct an investigation of the citizen complaint. APD has determined there is no threat to public safety as far as a vehicle impersonating to be a law enforcement officer at this time.”
Castro then said personnel within ATF had reached their command, allowing APD to release the following statement:
The Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) division operating in the state of Alaska has acknowledged that an SUV belonging to the agency was involved in a citizen complaint of the driver’s conduct on May 19, 2016 on the highway. Initially, APD was concerned that the vehicle may have been impersonating that of law enforcement when the reported license plate was not registered and issued an alert to citizens for concern of their safety. However, after conducting an investigation, today it was determined the vehicle belonged to ATF and was conducting official business at the time of the alleged conduct. ATF will be conducting a personnel investigation and APD is fully cooperating with this agency in their investigation.
Police are on alert after a driver reported being pulled over by a fake law enforcement vehicle this week.
Anchorage police released a statement Saturday about a report that a vehicle with red and blue interior dash lights attempted to pull over four vehicles on the Glenn Highway Thursday evening. The driver who reported the unmarked white Ford SUV said he saw the flashing lights as the other driver tried to pull him over around 5:30 p.m.
“As the motorist yielded, the driver sped past him, laughed, and flipped him the middle finger,” police said. “The complainant observed this occur three other times with the same results.”
When police ran the license plates of that vehicle, no matches were found, according to police. The driver is described as a white male with short hair and is possibly in his 30s.
Some of Anchorage police vehicles are unmarked, and police said some of their officers “may or may not be in uniform” when conducting a traffic stop.
“However, they will always have identification,” police said.
If you are unsure if someone attempting to pull you over is an actual law enforcement officer, police encourage you to call 786-8900 to confirm with their dispatchers that the traffic stop is real. In situations where it may be an emergency or is taking place outside of Anchorage, call 911.
Impersonating a public servant is a class B misdemeanor under Alaska statutes.
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