NAPLES, Fla. — Collier County Sheriff’s Office arrested Jonathan Nelson, 18 for impersonating a sheriff’s deputy Saturday afternoon. A caller told 9-1-1 dispatch a deputy was driving aggressively on Collier Blvd. and Immokalee Rd around 1:00 p.m.
Deputies later confirmed Nelson pretended to be law enforcement, driving a car similar to their cruiser. CCSO said his car also had flashing lights like deputies have on their cars.
Retired Police Chief Walter Zalisko said impersonators are pretty common.
“There are a lot of people who impersonate police officers for a number of reasons. One, they want to feel macho, feel like an authority. Then, there’s the criminal element. [They may] deliberately pull people over and rob them,” said Zalisko.
But he said there are ways drivers can protect themselves from impersonators.
“If somebody sees even a uniformed police officer driving aggressively, they should report that,” he said.
He also said if you don’t feel safe when a deputy or officer pulls you over, you can verify the traffic stop by calling 9-1-1 and pull over in a well-lit area. You can also tell dispatch that you’re stopping wher you feel safe. He said you can also ask law enforcement for their ID’s if you’re skeptical.
Nelson has been charged with impersonating a law enforcement officer.