‘Chief’ of alleged Genesee County police impersonators was Flint reserve officer

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FLINT (WJRT) (6/12/2018) - Two more people have been arrested and charged for impersonating police officers.

This comes after several more victims came forward. In total, there were three separate fake arrests.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said the fake officers' scheme dates back to 2015.

Emily Burrison of Burton, along with Jeffrey Jones and Auston Rose, both of Flint, were charged earlier this month for an illegal arrest at Stepping Stone Falls in Genesee Township.

Tuesday, Leyton's office charged 32-year-old Willie Strong III. A 22-year-old man from Mt. Morris is also behind bars awaiting arraignment.

At a press conference Tuesday, Leyton showed off the equipment the five used to dupe innocent victims into believing they were real police officers.

It included light bars on their unmarked cars, real handguns, a siren, radios, real handcuffs, badges and more.

Leyton said Strong appointed himself the chief. Turns out, Strong volunteered at the Flint Police Department as a reserve officer too. The department cut ties with him on June 1st.

Rose was deputy chief.

"They're really hurting the real police. They're hurting the community and we have to crack down on this. We cannot allow this vigilante-ism to occur in our community," Leyton said.

The two most recent incidents happened last September.

Leyton said Rose, Strong and Burrison caught three kids and an adult at Flint Central High School around 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 29, 2017. They arrested two of them and held them at gunpoint. The two others were taken to an undisclosed location.

In a separate incident, on Sept. 21, 2017, a man and woman were handcuffed around 1:30 a.m. near Mott Community College on West Court Street.

Leyton said the woman told him they had been in an argument when they were stopped by Rose and the fifth officer in an unmarked car.

She made this phone call to 9-1-1.

"I would like an officer with a marked car please," the woman said.

"OK, I'm just confused as to how you're saying you're detained and you're able to make a phone call," the 9-1-1 dispatcher responded.

"I have handcuffs on and I have my phone," the woman explained.

"She stated that both males who got out of this pseudo police car and were dressed like SWAT team members are the ones that arrested them and handcuffed them," Leyton said.

Court records show others helped with patrols. Leyton said they were under the impression this group would eventually become a legitimate police agency.

"None of that's gonna happen. It's all just a pipe dream," he said.

If you believe you've fallen victim to their scheme, you're urged to call police.

Anyone concerned about whether they are talking with a legitimate police officer can follow a few steps to verify the officer's identity:
-- Ask for identification and to see their badge.
-- Request a moment to call 911 and confirm the patrol car with dispatch.
-- Stay in a safe, well-lit place before puling over, so other people are around if at all possible.



 
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