By Kathi Bliss
Twice in recent weeks, Central Texas women have reported encounters with would-be attackers posing as police officers.
In early November, a woman in Bastrop County reported being signaled to pull over by a beige sedan with a red flashing light on the driver’s side roof. Instead of pulling over in the secluded area, she proceeded to a nearby truck stop, and the driver of the sedan left the area at a high rate of speed.
On Thanksgiving, a San Antonio woman reported a similar experience.
She was signaled by a dark-colored sedan with red-and-blue flashing lights on the dashboard. The victim did pull over, and was ordered out of her vehicle by an individual dressed in some sort of uniform. The suspect tried to force her into his vehicle, and she was able to struggle with him and eventually escape.
The rise in such incidents has prompted police to remind drivers, especially female drivers traveling alone at night, to be on guard, and aware of their surroundings.
“Our guys should be in uniform, and 98 percent of the time, they will be in a well-marked police unit,” said Lockhart Chief of Police Mike Lummus, who said that no such incidents have been reported in Lockhart.
Lummus did not dismiss the possibility of such activity though, and offered advice for drivers who are concerned about being approached by individuals impersonating officers.
“If they have access to a cell phone, they can call 9-1-1 and ask if it’s a legitimate traffic stop,” he said, adding that dispatchers will be aware if an officer has initiated a traffic stop. “They can also tell the dispatcher that they are driving to the police department to stop.”
If drivers are concerned, he said, they should always pull over in a well-lit area with heavy pedestrian traffic, such as a convenience store, if possible. In addition, they should activate their hazard flashers, and drive slowly, so that if it is a genuine traffic stop, the officer does not mistake their behavior for evading.
The Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department did not immediately respond to a request for information this week, but recently-submitted police blotters do not reflect any incidences of false traffic stops in Caldwell County recently.
Anyone with concerns about suspicious activity should call 9-1-1, or contact the Lockhart Police Department at (512) 398-4401 or the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office at (512) 398-6777.