When blue, flashing lights suddenly appear in the rear-view mirror, most drivers don’t hesitate to pull over and prepare to face a police officer.
But recent metro Atlanta incidents involving fake officers attempting traffic stops have real members of law enforcement reminding drivers to stay vigilant. In Cobb and Fulton counties, two women reported being sexually assaulted by a man posing as an officer. His car had a bar of blue lights on the top and he wore what appeared to be a star-shaped badge on a dark shirt.
So how can you know when a traffic stop is legit?
Here are five tips to stay safe when you’re pulled over:
1. Slow down and turn your hazard lights on. This will let the officer know you aren't attempting to get away.
2. Stop in a well-lit, public area. Seeing the patrol car and officer will help you determine the police agency involved.
3. Call 911 if you're not sure. Tell the operator you have been pulled over and you'd like to confirm whether it's a legitimate traffic stop.
4. Also call 911 if you're sure it's not a real officer. Try to provide the operator with a location and description of the suspect and vehicle, if possible. Stay on the phone until an officer arrives to help you.
5. Roll your window down only partially. You can still pass a driver's license and proof of insurance to the officer. And if it's not a real officer, this can prevent someone from reaching inside the vehicle.