BOISE - Authorities arrested a man and charged him with impersonating a police officer.
Boise Police arrested Clinton Matthews, 18 of Boise, for the felony charge late Saturday night. At about 11:21 p.m., police say a suspicious motorist called 9-1-1, after a pick up he described as "beat up" passed him after flashing red and blue lights.
The witness says at first the truck followed him very closely, then flashed what appeared to be emergency police lights. The witness, the driver of a car with another passenger inside, says he thought he was being pulled over by a police officer, so he pulled over, but the truck passed him going through a red light and continued driving on.
"Public safety is based largely on trust citizens have for the authority of police officers," said Pete Ritter, captain of the Boise Police Department's valley patrol division. ""That's a trust we work very hard to maintain."
The witness watched the pick up pull into the driveway of a nearby home. When officers arrived, they found the suspect wearing dark clothing, and carrying a badge and a radio similar to those used by police.
After some investigation, the suspect was arrested.
"When someone attempts to falsely identify themselves as a police officer, we consider it a very serious violation of the law, as well as a violation of the public's trust," Ritter said.
Cases involving impersonation of a police officer are not common in the Treasure Valley, but do occur, police say.
The Boise Police Department has released several tips and reminders for area residents who find themselves in traffic stops.
* Make sure the vehicle is a marked patrol car that includes the agency's insignia. If it is not a marked vehicle, the emergency lights should be built in and are usually not a temporary light placed on the vehicle.
* Try to stop in a well lit area where there are other people present.
* Turn on your car's emergency flashers, lock your doors, but don't turn your car off.
* Do not get out of the car to meet the officer. Officers usually don't like this anyway.
* If the officer is not in uniform, look for identifying clothing and equipment. If unsure, explain to the person that you are unsure about the situation and ask for official department identification and a badge. Ask where they work and if you can contact their dispatch center to confirm their identity. You may also request a marked patrol unit.
* Pay attention to what they are asking. Most officers will advise you of the reason for the stop and request your driver's license, registration and proof of insurance.
* If they immediately tell you to get out of the car without any preliminary questions, be suspicious. Usually, officers will identify themselves verbally and explain the reasons for the stop.
* To learn more about citizens rights and responsibilities during interaction with police officers, log onto www.boisepolice.org and click on the link marked "Understanding the Law and Police Procedure", a document compiled and distributed by the Boise Ombudsman and the Boise Police Department.