Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Fake deputy" gives fake DUI test in Hernando County

Brooksville, Florida — The Hernando County Sheriff's Office is looking for a man masquerading as a deputy.

They say he already stopped one driver — and made him take a field sobriety test with equipment similar to a breathalyzer.

The incident happened around 1:00 a.m. Tuesday on Cortez Blvd and Cedar Lane in Brooksville.

The driver told investigators he stopped when a vehicle with flashing red and blue lights pulled up behind him, and he was approached by a man who identified himself as a Deputy Sheriff with the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

"The subject claiming to be the deputy said that he was conducting seat belt enforcement," said Donna Black of the Sheriff's Office. "The subject required the citizen to complete several field sobriety tests which included providing a breath sample by breathing into an object similar to a portable breathalyzer."

He refused to provide a last name and only identified himself as "Deputy Chuck," she said.

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office determined he was NOT a Hernando County Deputy.

The vehicle is described as a Ford Crown Victoria, black in color with a spot light attached to the driver's side door frame. Blue and red police lights mounted on the dashboard and above the rear view mirror. Normal, Ford stock hub caps.

The suspect is described as a white man, early to mid 40's, 5'10", 160 lbs, receding hair line, silver wire rim glasses, last seen wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans. Attached to his belt was a silver colored badge in a leather belt clip. He did not display any firearms but he did have a night stick tucked in his belt.

The Hernando County Sheriff Office is cautioning citizens about what they should do if an unmarked car signals them to pull over, especially at night, and you are not sure if the person is a law enforcement officer.

The Sheriff's office says you should put on your four-way (hazard) flashers and dome light, slowly drive to the closest well-lit public area. Or if you have a cell phone call 911 and verify with communication the traffic stop.