AURORA | Officials with Colorado State Patrol on Monday detained but did not charge a volunteer with the Aurora Police Department after he was found clad in tactical gear and department-specific paraphernalia during a traffic stop in Denver.
Authorities said troopers stopped the 39-year-old man after he was found to be driving 9 miles per hour over the speed limit on Interstate 25 in north Denver at about 6:30 a.m. Monday morning. The unidentified man was driving a 2009 Ford Crown Victoria equipped with a re-enforced bumper, a strip of lights on the roof, a cage partition separating the front seats from the back and a mobile computer mounted near the driver’s seat.
The man was wearing a dark blue police uniform with body armor and a tactical belt, according to Trooper Josh Lewis, spokesperson for Colorado State Patrol.
He was also in possession of a lanyard and a reflective vest that were both emblazoned with the words “Aurora Police Department.” When asked for identification, he presented a card clarifying he was a “volunteer” with Aurora police.
Aurora officials confirmed to State Patrol that the man was indeed a volunteer with the local department.
On Tuesday, Officer Crystal McCoy, spokesperson for Aurora police, clarified that the man had been a volunteer with the department since spring 2020, though Aurora police have effectively shelved their volunteer program since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The subject in question became a volunteer in early 2020, just before COVID hit, and since then, we have not utilized any of our volunteers,” McCoy wrote in an email. “That program now falls under the Community Relations Section, led by Claudine McDonald, who has since taken the program over earlier this year and has been trying to work on how and when to bring the volunteers back. The subject has been effectively removed form the volunteer program as a result of his involvement with this incident.”
When he was pulled over, the man was in possession of at least two guns — including a shotgun — extra ammunition and handcuffs, authorities said.
Authorities said the man was stripped of all his effects displaying the words “Aurora Police Department.”
Investigators eventually determined that the man had not violated any laws and was subsequently released with a warning.
“It was determined there was insufficient evidence the male party violated Colorado Revised Statute 18-8-112 ‘impersonating a peace officer,’” Lewis wrote.
Troopers were first alerted to the man’s actions following a possible “road rage incident” on Highway 36, officials said.
Authorities declined to identify the man because he was not charged with a crime.
Local authorities warned motorists of police impersonators at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring after a woman claimed she was stopped by a suspected impersonator in late March. The woman later admitted to local prosecutors that she had fabricated the story in an effort to get additional pandemic-related resources from her employer.
Anyone who believes they are being pulled over by a police impersonator is encouraged not to stop their car, but instead drive to a well-lit public space and call 911.