A St. Albert man has been arrested and charged with impersonating a peace officer after two drivers complained they had been pulled over in a traffic stop and had their thumbs scanned.
Police are still seeking information that will lead to the discovery of a light-coloured SUV believed to have been used in the incidents and are asking that anyone who had similar experiences report them to police.
On Thursday July 27, a driver of a vehicle reported being involved in a traffic stop conducted by a man who said that he was a police officer. The driver told the Westlock RCMP that they had been followed by a light-coloured SUV from Westlock and the vehicle turned on red and blue flashing lights as they approached Fawcett, Alta.
The complainant pulled over to the side of the road and a man got out of the SUV and said he was a police officer. The man said he was pulling the driver over for a traffic violation and asked to see the driver’s license, registration and insurance.
The documents were returned to the driver and then the man asked the driver to scan his thumb in a device he presented.
RCMP do not know what the device was that scanned the thumb or if it was a legitimate fingerprint scanner. It was not known if any related device was retrieved through a search warrant.
The driver was then allowed to leave and was not harmed in any way.
A second complaint was filed to the Westlock RCMP on July 29 after a truck and trailer had been pulled over and a man conducted a similar traffic stop. The man was driving an SUV with a similar description.
Cpl. Hal Turnbull, spokesperson with the RCMP K Division, said that charges of impersonating a police officer or peace officer are pretty rare.
Aside from one recent incident where Edmonton police charged a contract photo radar operator after the sexual assault and kidnapping of woman after a fake traffic stop, Turnbull said he couldn’t remember the last impersonation charge.
“I can’t recall the last one that we have had. It was many, many years ago,” Turnbull said.
Turnbull said that when being pulled over drivers should take into consideration the reason they are being stopped. In these instances the drivers were not suspicious of the reasons they were being pulled over.
“They were being pulled over for alleged traffic infractions which they knew that they committed,” Turnbull said.
If a driver suspects they are being pulled over by a phony officer Turnbull recommends calling 9-1-1 to report what is happening and pulling over in a well-lit public area.
The man was described as being Caucasian with short dark hair, wearing blue clothing and a hat.
Mark Andrew Capowski, a 36-year-old St. Albert resident, has been charged with two counts of personating a peace officer. He was released on bail on strict conditions and will make his first appearance in the Westlock provincial court on Wednesday Aug. 23.
Members of the St. Albert RCMP Detachment assisted Westlock RCMP in their investigation by executing a search warrant at a residence in St. Albert, which resulted in the seizure of evidence, which has prompted the investigation to continue.
The RCMP request the public’s assistance in locating a grey 2015 Chevrolet Suburban, with black push-bars on the front bumper. The vehicle has tinted windows, black rims with the Alberta licence plate BWL 2384. It is believed the vehicle may have been involved in the two incidents and may be connected to additional information gathered by the St. Albert RCMP detachment.
Anyone who may have information relating to the whereabouts of the vehicle of interest or who may have had an experience similar to those described above is asked to call the St. Albert RCMP Detachment at 780-458-7700.