A man impersonating a law enforcement officer has stopped residents, made inappropriate comments and even physically molested his latest victim, according to the Newton County Sheriff's Office.
In at least four separate incidents over the last three months, victims have reported being pulled over by a black man of medium height with short hair driving a dark colored car that looked like a Crown Victoria with a flashing blue light. In the first three cases, the man made inappropriate comments, but in the latest case, the man fondled the victim, a 17-year-old female.
Newton County Sheriff Joe Nichols said all the victims were middle-aged or young females and the incidents occurred just after dark or at sunset, mostly on the west side of the county. The victims reportedly described the man as "looking professional," with a gun belt, some type of badge and dressed in dark colored battle dress uniform. One of the victims also noted a burn scar on his cheek and another report said he wore glasses while the other reports did not list that.
"We do not make traffic stops with unmarked cars," said Nichols.
Only in rare cases where a driver presented a clear and present danger would a stop in an unmarked car be made, he said.
Nichols pointed out even their "slick top" patrol car, which has no lights mounted on the top, has markings on the side and has enough lights in its grill and dashboard that it would be "lit up like a Christmas tree."
Nichols said anyone with any suspicions about a patrol car should call 911 while continuing at a steady speed before being pulled over. State Troopers and sheriff's deputies notify dispatchers when they're about to pull over a vehicle for a traffic stop and the dispatcher would be able to confirm if it's a law enforcement officer from those entities, he said.
The Rockdale County Sheriff's Office said they had not received reports of any such incidents.
Anyone with information about the incidents or the suspect can call the Newton County Sheriff's Office at (678) 625-1400, and can leave anonymous tips at (678) 625-5007 or online through their Web site, www.newtonsheriffga.org.