GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Investigators are reminding people to ask for identification of a police officer after a man -- or possibly two men -- allegedly impersonated an officer and then sexually assaulted two women.
The first happened in Fridley on Saturday. Sommer says a woman was walking to her car in the 6400 block of 5th Street NE when a man in a dark-colored SUV approached her and said he was a police officer. He then kidnapped the woman and assaulted her.
A similar incident happened Sunday near the University of Minnesota.
According to a crime alert issued by the U of M, a student was walking home alone when a man, who wore a dark jacket with a badge, offered her a ride home. After the victim got inside the car, the suspect locked the doors, took her somewhere and assaulted her, authorities said.
The suspect is described as a black man between the ages of 23 and 27 years old with short hair and a trimmed beard.
Authorities believe the two incidents are likely related. Anoka County plans to release a composite sketch of the suspect in the Fridley attack this week.
Sgt. Jeff Stiff with the St. Paul Police Department says the most important way to know you're dealing with a legitimate office is ask for their official ID card, which most likely will be in their wallet.
"Any one can make an id, but it will have specific identifiers on it. Like this one has my number on it, has my signature," said Stiff.
Another thing to check, if possible, is the officer's badge. If it's legit it will have the jurisdiction they work for on it.
Anoka County Commander Paul Sommer says people should also remember these tips:
- Ask for the officer's credentials.
- Always look for a badge and inspect it if you can.
- Look for a state seal on the officer's credentials.
- You can always call 911 to verify the officer's credentials or ask for a uniformed officer in a marked squad car before cooperating.
But Sgt. Stiff says if you call on your cell phone you may not reach the jurisdiction from which you are located right away.
So how far can you push?
Defense attorney Eric Olson says simply asking an officer to see his or her badge or an I-D is within your rights.
"The officer should be required to tell you who they are and the reason for stopping you and taking the time to talk to you," said Olson.
And the vast majority of officers, according to Stiff don't mind the questions.
"It's something that is expected of us. It's something I tell my wife to do, it's something I tell my sister to do, I tell people to do, ask for credentials," he said.
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