Spooked motorist leads officers on a long chase
Colorado man said he was afraid to stop for theunmarked car behind him
A Utah County man was cited for reckless driving and disobeying the command of a police officer Friday when he refused to stop for an unmarked Utah County patrol car.
After a lengthy pursuit at lawful speeds, Denny Hobson of Cuchara, Colo. pulled his 2004 Ford motorhome to the shoulder of U.S. Highway 6 after he was approached and ordered to do so by a marked Utah Highway Patrol car, according to UHP Sgt. John Kelly.
"When the motorhome passed the unmarked police cruiser he was driving in a aggressive and erratic manner," said Kelly. "That made the on duty officer turn on his lights and sirens and attempt to pull the vehicle over. When the driver refused to pull over, the officer from Utah County called into 911 dispatch and requested local assistance."
Kelly reported that when the 68-year-old Hobson finally came to a stop at mile marker 267 in Carbon County, he said that he did not believe the unmarked car was truly a police officer and was afraid to pull over.
Following his explanation to the police, Trooper Shawn Alton of the UHP, cited Hobson due to several factors, according to Kelly.
"We understand that people can and do impersonate police officers but there were several bad decisions made by Mr. Hobson as a motorist, that led to him being ticketed," said Kelly. "The best thing to do if you believe you are being pursued by an impersonator is to call 911 and report the situation, at that point the dispatcher will verify the validity of the officer and even send out a marked car. Secondly Mr. Hobson led the Utah County officer through the town of Wellington, where he had the opportunity to stop at one of several public areas." According to Kelly, Hobson could have been arrested for the more serious felony evasion.
"The important thing for all motorists to note is that the proper thing to do anytime you see those flashing red and blue lights is to pull to the right side of the road and stop," said Kelly. "Call 911 if you have suspicions or stop at a public place and ask someone there to call 911. It is also appropriate o ask an officer at anytime for his identification."
Hobson's suspicions concerning police impersonation are not without foundation in the state of Utah. The Desert Morning News reported as recently as August that a Salt Lake City resident had his wallet stolen by a man posing as a police officer.
According to the Aug. 24 story, "a man approached a person near 400 East and 1500 South claiming he was a police officer investigating robberies in the area. The man asked to see identification. When the victim pulled out his wallet, the fake officer grabbed it and ran."
However, despite an individual's suspicions the Utah Department of Public Safety, along with Sgt. Kelly are clear concerning the letter of the law.
Utah law requires that a motorist stop for a vehicle displaying emergency lights or sounding a siren.
"If you think the vehicle might be someone impersonating a police officer, you should lock your doors, roll up your windows and drive to a well lighted area where other people are present before stopping," stated the Utah Department of Safety Web site. "If a person is out of uniform, insist on seeing his badge and identification card. If, after seeing these credentials, you still feel something isn't right, insist that a marked patrol car come to the scene. Remain in your locked vehicle until a uniformed officer arrives."
Trooper Kelly had further instructions for those who feel an officer or someone impersonating an officer has performed an improper action.
"Report anything you feel is improper to your local jurisdiction," concluded Kelly. "These reports are a good way for local departments to stop police impersonation that may be occurring."