A man was arrested on suspicion of impersonating a Mesa police officer after he made a traffic stop while driving a vehicle with blue-and-red strobe lights, officials said.
Joshua Hillman, 28, was arrested Thursday by an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper after the trooper stopped to assist with what he thought was a traffic stop by an unmarked police vehicle.
Sgt. Brandon Powell was driving west on U.S. 60 near Lindsay Road when he saw an SUV involved in a traffic stop on a car. Powell noticed the SUV had blue-and-red strobe lights and thought it was an unmarked law-enforcement vehicle, DPS said in a statement.
Powell stopped to help and saw Hillman talking to the female driver of the car. Powell observed that Hillman did not have a firearm on his waist and was wearing a shirt embroidered with the letters, “Mesa Police” on a gold badge, DPS said.
Powell questioning the driver and found that Hillman was not a law-enforcement officer and was not affiliated with the Mesa Police Department, DPS said.
Hillman told Powell he stopped the car because the vehicle cut him off. He said he has used the red-and-blue lights in the past when contacting stranded motorists, DPS said.
Hillman was arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of impersonating a police officer and three counts of kidnapping.
Hillman’s father works with the Mesa Police Department as a civilian member in the forensics unit, department officials confirmed.
According to court records, Hillman is suspected of committing a similar impersonation offense at a Mesa Circle K near Alma School Road and Rio Salado Parkway.
Hillman approached the store clerk and identified himself as a police officer looking for a woman with a pink bag. Court documents say Hillman was wearing a badge with a chain around his neck identifying him as U.S. Army military police.
The clerk contacted Mesa police and Hillman was found and arrested on suspicion of impersonating a Law Enforcement officer.
Hillman admitted to identifying himself as a police officer when questioned by Mesa police, according to court records.
Authorities say Hillman admitted to having weapons and officers found a loaded pistol with four rounds of ammo in it on the man, along with a pocket knife, records state.
Law enforcement officers also said Hillman had a pair of handcuffs in his back pocket, a handcuff key, traffic signal box key and smaller folding pocket knife.
Authorities say Hillman may have stopped other vehicles under similar circumstances. They are asking anyone who had contact with him to call DPS at 877-272-8329.
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This is not the first officer impersonation in the state in recent years.
In January 2018, a man was accused of impersonating an undercover Tucson police officer and stopping at least four people, one of whom he handcuffed. He used a dash cam to film his stops.
In May 2017, police said a man impersonating an officer handcuffed a driver and placed her into the back of his vehicle during a “traffic stop” in Tucson.
A teenager was arrested in 2015 on suspicion of impersonating a peace officer and conducting traffic stops in San Tan Valley.
Authorities say people should use extreme caution when approached by an unmarked vehicle that looks like a police car, and call 911 if suspicious to verify the stop is valid.
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