By PoliceOne Staff
FLINT, Mich. — Law enforcement officials said a group of police impersonators in Michigan spent years making arrests and fooling first responders.
The Flint Journal reports that a core group of about 10 people have been impersonating police across Genesee County, Michigan since October 2015. They are currently facing felony charges.
The group is accused of making false arrests of people they accused of committing crimes and tricked real first responders at crime scenes. Police said the group, who called themselves the Genesee County Fire and EMS Media-Genesee County Task Force Blight Agency, had impersonated police at county parks, house fires, vehicle crashes and other crime scenes.
“We believe that on some occasions, they were the first to show up on crime scenes,” Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said. “On some occasions, the real police would ask them to perform tasks at the scene, not realizing they were imposters.”
On Sept. 21, 2017, an investigation into the group was launched after Kevin Shanlian, chief of the Genesee County Parks ranger division, received complaints from victims who said they were mistreated by park rangers. Shanlian soon learned that the park rangers the victims were referring to were imposters.
On Friday, Emily Burrison, 27, Jeffrey Jones, 29, and Auston Rose, 23, were arraigned on charges of impersonating a police officer and unlawful imprisonment, according to WNEM. Leyton said the imposters were found wearing uniforms, badges and utility belts.
Court records indicate that there are five other defendants in the case who have not been charged.
“We believe they’ve done this to other people,” Leyton said. “We’re asking people to come forward if, in fact, they believe they’ve been victimized by people they don’t believe are real police officers.”
An attorney for Jones told the Flint Journal that the group had “good intentions” and that they were trying to make the community a better place.