A Jonesborough woman was safe Thursday, thanks to her keen eye, after a man posing as a police officer attempted to pull her over.
Debbie Morris, 47, was driving east on Sugar Hollow Road around 7:15 a.m. Thursday when she came up behind a black Ford Crown Victoria traveling at a slow pace. Morris passed the vehicle and as she pulled in front of it, the driver, Carl Joseph Robinson, 48, turned on flashing lights as if he were a police officer traveling in an unmarked car.
Morris noticed the vehicle had Florida tags and no blue lights so she decided not to pull over for Robinson. Instead, Morris called 911 and dispatchers told her no officer from the area was trying to stop her and they were sending out the real police to investigate.
But Robinson quickly disappeared.
“He had a 800 megahertz scanner programmed with all the local police frequencies in the car,” said Washington County Sheriff’s Office Investigator William Gregg. “He heard them dispatch his vehicle information over the scanner and got scared so he drove away.”
A short time later, a Jonesborough police officer spotted the car and stopped the vehicle. WCSO authorities arrived on scene and arrested Robinson after discovering the scanner, strobe lights, other police lights, a CB radio, an emergency equipment control box and a copy of police 10-codes inside his automobile.
“It looked just like an unmarked police car, except it had no blue lights. His were all clear,” Gregg said. “He said he bought it at an auction in Florida. He bought the lights and the control panel and installed all that himself.”
According to reports, Robinson, 119 Jasper Edwards Road, Jonesborough, had the vehicle painted black in February.
“I think he had it painted because he had done this before when it was white and he knew we were looking for that vehicle,” Gregg said. “We notified Johnson City police because they had a couple reports a while back about a white car trying to stop people.” Authorities say fake police make it that much harder for real officers to do their job. “It makes people hesitate when any unmarked car tries to pull them over,” said Gregg, who commended Morris for her quick thinking Thursday. “If you have any doubt, you should call 911 and ask dispatchers.”
Robinson allegedly admitted to police he tried to pull over Morris because he was mad she had passed him.
He was charged with criminal impersonation of a police officer, light law violations, reckless endangerment and felony evading arrest. He was being held in the Washington County Detention Center on $7,000 bond and was scheduled to appear in Sessions Court today.
Meanwhile, another man was arrested Thursday after he allegedly impersonated a police officer while passing a forged check this week.
Johnson City police arrested Charles Robert Smith, 3406 W. Walnut St., on warrants charging him with forgery, theft under $500 and criminal impersonation.
On Wednesday, Smith allegedly identified himself as a police officer to a clerk at Quick Stop Market, 1501 W. State of Franklin Road, where he then passed a forged check. Smith was being held in the WCDC on $3,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Sessions Court Monday.