Fake police officer stopped people to see if they were essential workers, OPP say

Wellington OPP says it is not conducting random street checks of people to ensure they're essential workers after a man wearing a ballistic vest with the word "police" on it stopped a driver in Fergus last week.

Man wore ballistic vest and stopped people in Wellington County last week, OPP say

Wellington OPP say a man impersonated an officer and stopped a person who was driving on April 14, asking them to prove they were an essential worker. (CBC)

A man impersonating a police officer stopped a driver in Fergus last week and asked if they were an essential worker, Wellington OPP say.

On April 14, a man who was wearing a black long-sleeve shirt and a ballistic vest with the word "police" in yellow-orange letters across the front stopped a driver. He asked the driver for proof they were an essential worker.

"The driver provided him with the information requested. The suspect then returned to his vehicle and left the scene," OPP said in a release.

Wellington OPP says it has received more than one complaint about this happening.

The man is described as being between 30 and 40 years old, with short dark hair in a brush cut, and unshaven facial hair. He was seen driving a black four-door sedan, possibly a Ford Fusion or Ford Taurus. On the dashboard there was a blue strobe light and there was a small aerial antenna on the trunk.

Acting Insp. Paul Richardson said the police service "is not conducting random traffic stops to check motorists' work status during the COVID-19 pandemic, nor are drivers required to prove they are an essential worker to police."

Const. Cheri Rockefeller said police want people to contact OPP "if they or someone they know has ever been stopped by an individual that they felt was impersonating a police officer. Not just in Centre Wellington — but anywhere in the county."

Police said anyone stopped by an unmarked vehicle and a plain clothes officer are within their rights to ask the officer for identification or request a uniformed officer be present.

"Those individuals should also call 911 if they have reason to believe the person is not a police officer," police said.

Anyone with information on this investigation is asked to call Wellington County OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.


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