Police impersonators are becoming far more sophisticated, reports the New York Times. In South Florida, they have become better organized and, most troubling to law enforcement officials, more violent. The practice is so common that the Miami-Dade Police Department formed a Police Impersonator Unit.
Since the unit started in 2007, it has arrested or had encounters with more than 80 phony officers, and the frequency has increased in recent months, said Lt. Daniel Villanueva. “It's definitely a trend,” he said. “They use the guise of being a police officer to knock on a door, and the victim lowers their guard for just a second. At that point, it's too late.” Said Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis: “Unfortunately, there is not a lot of downside for a criminal to impersonate a police officer. You can charge them with impersonating a police officer, but that's not a very serious crime. The way the law views this crime, it's as an innocent or silly prank. But it has become a much more serious crime than it is perceived by the public.”