The “Worst Criminal of the Year” award goes to Robert Montoya from Denver, CO. He has been a serial police impersonator, and has put a lot of effort into his charade. Including his uniform, he has a dark gray Chevy Impala fully outfitted much like a police cruiser. Mounted laptop, police scanner, lights and even handcuffs were found in his vehicle. The 47 year old was found parked in Downtown Denver on September 5th shortly after he pulled over an unmarked detective’s sedan.
The detective who was pulled over by Montoya naturally verified the incident with his department, and found that there was no such vehicle registered to DPD. Montoya and his car were found a few hours later. Montoya was arrested and his car was impounded. The Denver Police Department says the level of detail in his police persona is startling, as most impersonators are discovered because they seem so unrealistic. The fact that Montoya managed to pull over a Denver detective was sheer luck, and the department admits that he could have impersonated a police officer for some time with how convincing his set up was.
Denver, for some reason, has experienced a slew of police impersonations in the past few years, and has reached a total of 8 within Colorado State since the beginning of September. DPD and surrounding counties assure people that there are ways to discourage future attempts at impersonating police, as long as people are aware and not afraid to challenge things a bit. DPD is doing their part to dissuade these criminals, and plans to crush Montoya’s vehicle and gear as a statement.
The DPD has released multiple statements over the past few years in hopes of helping residents prevent future problems. A number of women have been assaulted, and DPD says that most impersonators do target women. For female residents, they encourage them to never pull over in an isolated area. Keep driving slowly, with your flashers on, until you reach a safe place in a populated area to pull over. A true police officer will recognize this behavior and allow you to continue. A false officer will most likely drive past you. Report any strange behavior, and if you’re in doubt, call 911 immediately and ask for verification of an officer’s vehicle in your location. Keep driving if no such vehicle is on their record.
If you are driving around Denver or the surrounding area, and you see a suspiciously outfitted car, much like Montoya’s, take note of the license plate and call 911 or your local police department. You could save a future encounter from ever occurring. If you do manage to find yourself pulled over and you feel uncomfortable with the officer, do not exit the vehicle or give any identification until you call 911. A real police officer will stand with you or away from your vehicle until you can verify their identity. One key thing to remember is to never turn off your car until you’re sure it’s an actual officer pulling you over. This has saved multiple women from being dragged from their cars.
Impersonators don’t just pull people over though- they can often come to your home and request entrance, or attempt to cover up a theft or incident that was reported to the police. The same rules apply: if you are concerned about the identity or lack of professionalism an “officer” shows, call 911. An officer would have reported their location, and would be on record. Do not allow police into your home until you confirm their identities. Keep a visual record of how they look (race, age, weight, height, tattoos, etc.). This will help the cops identify impersonators before they strike again.
Denver and the surrounding area seem to attract a lot of police impersonators, and the real police want people to know that this rise in crime is unacceptable and also preventable. By being aware of your surroundings, and not just “freaking out” when you see a cop, you can prevent a bad situation and stop a criminal. DPD hopes that by increasing their capture and punishment of these individuals, future impersonators will be discouraged from ever attempting it.