Update on Officer Impersonation Case
Over the past several weeks, the Christiansburg Police Department has received four reports involving an individual impersonating a police officer. We are aware that there is a tremendous amount of public concern about these cases and are also aware that there has been considerable social media interest in these cases.
We want to assure the community that the Christiansburg Police Department takes these matters very seriously. Ensuring the safety of the citizens in our community is always our first priority. The Christiansburg Police Department conducts regular traffic enforcement and call response using easily-identifiable marked patrol vehicles. The Christiansburg Police Department does have unmarked police vehicles used by detectives and administrative personnel, but unmarked vehicles are not used for regular traffic enforcement operations. Any of our detectives or plain-clothes officers who stop a motorist or pedestrian in the course of duty will always display a badge, provide a reason for the stop and will give their name, badge number and will show credentials upon request.
Please remember, if you are being pulled over by an unmarked vehicle or have any questions about the legitimacy of the traffic stop, please call 911 to confirm that a traffic stop is occurring at your location. If possible to do so safely, you should make this call while you are being pulled over. The 911 Center can verify if a traffic stop is happening at your location. If you cannot call in, you should activate your emergency 4-way flashers and drive at normal speed to a well-lit, populated area or to the nearest law enforcement agency before stopping. All local agencies and the Virginia State Police have been made aware of this situation and will understand the actions of motorists who take these precautions.
Our criminal investigations division has devoted countless hours to investigating these cases. Detectives and patrol officers have also spent a great deal of time conducting focused patrol operations, both high-visibility marked patrols and undercover operations. We will continue to devote all available resources to both solving these cases and to ensuring the safety of our community. We also want to provide an update on the current status of the investigation. The two most recent cases have been cleared as unfounded, which means the investigation showed that the reported incident never actually occurred.
One case, involving a juvenile, reported having been stopped in front of a local business. Surveillance video captured from a nearby security camera confirmed that while the complainant did pass by the location at the reported time, the driver was never stopped, and no other cars passed by the location for several minutes after the complainant. Because the case involved a juvenile, we cannot release further details about the final case disposition other than to say criminal charges will not be filed in this instance.
The most recent case reported was also cleared as unfounded after the complaining witness confessed to detectives that the story was fabricated and that the incident never occurred. That motorist is an adult and has been charged with filing a false police report. We are not releasing further details about motive or intentions since the criminal case is still pending.
Additionally, the Virginia State Police recently cleared a similar case in Botetourt County that involved a similar vehicle description as that given in some of our local cases. As reported by the news media, the motorist in that case also confessed to fabricating the story.
An unfortunate side effect to reports of this nature is that they tend to encourage copycat reports. These false reports divert time and resources away from actual cases and can delay response to legitimate calls for service. However, the fact that some of these reports have been false does not change the fact that we continue to devote extensive investigative and patrol resources to the unsolved cases and will continue to do so in an effort to ensure that motorists are safe on the highways and streets in Christiansburg. We very strongly encourage citizens to report any criminal behavior, suspicious activity or threats to public safety they are aware of to our department.