How easy it it to impersonate a law enforcement officer?
On Saturday, Kansas City police responded to an armed robbery at a home near 16th Street and Hardesty Avenue.
The victim told police perpetrators were men pretending to be police officers. Initial reports said the individuals might have pretended to be bail bondsmen; later information indicated they might have been wearing shirts bearing the word "Sheriff."
Online vs. real life
To see how easy or difficult it is to purchase law enforcement uniforms, 41 Action News called several stores in the metro, including Alamar Uniform in North Kansas City. Every store told us over the phone you have to show a police ID (either a badge or commission card) in order to purchase specific law enforcement gear, such as T-shirts, bullet proof vests and guns.
"We always make sure, if somebody asks about handcuffs, cuff keys, assisted knives, or anything that states being a sheriff, a police, security, that they have to show a badge or a commission card or photo ID," said Monica Deck, the store manager at Alamar Uniform.
Online, it's a different story. 41 Action News found several sites where one can purchase police patches and complete uniforms without proving one's identity.
How can you tell?
If someone comes to the door with a badge, police say you should make sure it has an officer number. You can also call police to confirm it is an actual officer.
If you get pulled over, police say you should comply, but put your flashers on and pull over in a well-lit and populated area. Once again, police say you can call 911 to confirm it is a legitimate officer.
Ariel Rothfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.