CLEVELAND - After Saturday's alleged assault involving a man impersonating a police officer, police spoke to NewsChannel 5 on Sunday to offer tips on how to stay safe when being pulled over by an unmarked vehicle.
The victim in Saturday's fake cop incident told police she thought she was being pulled over by an unmarked police vehicle on East 79th Street near Korman Avenue. The woman reported being sexually assaulted and robbed. She said the suspect was driving in a black Chevy Caprice with tinted windows and a "bubble light".
Hoping to educate drivers on how to stay safe, Ohio State Highway Patrol Sergeant John Miller went over some tips on what to do and what to look for when you are getting pulled over.
Addressing the "bubble light," Miller showed NewsChannel 5 the lights on the top of his cruiser and said, "This is what you should see in your rear view mirror if you're stopped by a police officer."
There were strobes on the roof of the vehicle, inside the grill and inside the front headlights. There was also a spotlight on the side of the vehicle that Miller said is almost always used when pulling over vehicles at night.
If the area where you stop looks desolate, Miller said you don't have to stop there. In fact, he said, "Proceed to that well lit area or a public building, the fire department, hospital." These are public places, he went on to say, where many people can see what's going on.
"You know it's happening often," said Jennifer Castro, a female driver on Cleveland's West Side. Castro said she made sure to have this conversation with her family members out of concern adding, "…it is very important to know what a detective car looks like and what an actual police officer looks like."
But the best way to stay safe, according to the Sergeant, is to remember you're never alone. Miller told NewsChannel 5 before you even stop, if you don't feel safe, "Use your cell phone to dial 9-1-1 and talk to the dispatcher, let her know what's going on, give your location and have her guide you as to what she wants you to do."
"We want to build a trust within the community and we don't want impersonators out there trying to destroy that trust," said Miller.
Cleveland Police are investigating the cop impersonator incident and told NewsChannel 5, they need help.
Anyone with information or who may have been a witness to Saturday's assault is asked to contact the Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Unit at 216-623-5630.