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Here's some free advice: if you fake being a cop, don't try to arrest a real cop.
That was the "rookie mistake" made by Anthony Kenneth Mastrogiovanni when he pulled over an off-duty Capitol Heights Police officer on Wednesday. Mastrogiovanni pulled the officer over on the highway in Maryland for allegedly speeding and told the officer that he was a Louisiana military police officer.
Unluckily for Mastrogiovanni, the officer he pulled over actually knew the law.
The officer told Mastrogiovanni that he even if he was an officer in Louisiana, he had no jurisdiction in Maryland. He also informed Mastrogiovanni that it's illegal in Maryland to put blue and red emergency equipment in his white truck.
Mastrogiovanni realized the gig was up and he fled but Prince George's County police tracked him down and charged him for impersonating a police officer.
Impersonating a police officer is a misdemeanor in Maryland and carries a potential 2 years in prison or a fine or up to $2000.
Luckily, it does not appear that anyone was hurt by Mastrogiovanni but his arrest does bring up the issue of safety.
If you're pulled over by a police officer you have a right to request that they show you their badge to prove that they are actually a police officer.
This may not be an issue if the officer is driving a marked police vehicle. But if the vehicle is not marked or only has emergency lights to identify it, it is never a bad idea to ask for the officer's police badge when he or she approaches the car.
Remember to always be respectful what making a request for identification to a police officer. If you are worried that the question will offend the officer, mention that you have some safety concerns given news of people like Mastrogiovanni impersonating officers in unmarked vehicles.
As for Mr. Fake Cop himself, Anthony Mastrogiovanni's arrest makes it unlikely that he'll repeat this stunt. He was released on personal recognizance and is awaiting a hearing.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.