How to spot a police officer

Investigators looking for a man, or possibly two men, who impersonated a police officer and sexually assaulted two women are reminding people that any real officer will tell you his or her name and law enforcement agency.

That’s one of the tips Anoka County Commander Paul Sommer shared with me today regarding your rights in an encounter with an police officer, especially one in plain clothes or an unmarked vehicle. Sommer says people should also remember these tips:

  • Ask for the officer’s credentials.
  • Always look for a badge and inspect it if you can.
  • Look for a state seal on the officer’s credentials.
  • You can always call 911 to verify the officer’s credentials or ask for a uniformed officer in a marked squad car before cooperating.

Both Anoka County and Minneapolis police continue to investigate the two incidents.

The first happened in Fridley on Saturday. Sommer says a woman was walking to her car in the 6400 block of 5th Street NE when a man in a dark-colored SUV approached her and said he was a police officer. He then kidnapped the woman and assaulted her.

A similar incident happened Sunday near the University of Minnesota.

According to a crime alert issued by the U of M, a student was walking home alone when a man, who wore a dark jacket with a badge, offered her a ride home. After the victim got inside the car, the suspect locked the doors, took her somewhere and assaulted her, authorities said.

Anoka County authorities believe the two incidents are likely related. Anoka County plans to release a composite sketch of the suspect in the Fridley attack this week.