August 27, 2014 10:44:28 AM
Oktibbeha County law enforcement agents are warning residents of two suspects who are reportedly posing as police officers and conducting illegal traffic stops after a resident claimed she was taken to Kemper County against her will Monday.
Deputies were first contacted about the reported abduction about 10 p.m. Monday when the victim's mother contacted law enforcement.
OCSD Commander Brett Watson said the victim was pulled over by a white Ford Crown Victoria with a spotlight and blue, police-style emergency light on Highway 182, east of Starkville in outlying Oktibbeha County.
An African-American male, who stood about 6 feet and was described as having a bald head, full beard and slight mustache, approached the vehicle and ordered the victim out of her car, while a second suspect held back near the Crown Victoria.
The first suspect, Watson said, was dressed in a dark blue, police-style shirt with black pants, while the other was described as a dark-complected male with a low haircut and mustache, who wore a khaki-type shirt, black pants and square glasses.
The suspect who approached the car did not appear to possess a weapon, but it is believed he had a badge-like object as Watson said the victim thought she was involved in a legitimate traffic stop.
Watson said the victim was then ordered into the trunk of her car, and one of the suspects began driving the vehicle south.
Once the car was abandoned in outlying Kemper County, the victim used trunk's emergency handle to exit the vehicle.
The entire situation ended near 2 a.m., Watson said, and the victim was not injured in the abduction.
Kemper County Sheriff's Department is still in possession of the victim's car.
If drivers question the legitimacy of a traffic stop, Watson said they should first turn on their car's hazard lights to let the officer know they're aware of the situation and then call 911 to confirm the law enforcement agent's presence.
"There is a possibility that you may be pulled over by an unmarked police vehicle; it's not an infrequent occurrence," he said. "The 911 center will be able to make contact with any officer executing a traffic stop within this jurisdiction or any other jurisdiction. If an officer is doing what he should be doing, he should be in contact with his dispatch to let them know he's executing a traffic stop. They will then be able to let you know it's safe to pull over.
"If it's not one of those officers, 911 will be able to instruct you on what to do, how to keep yourself safe and where to proceed so you can meet an officer to come to your aid," Watson added.
Law enforcement agents consider Monday's report an isolated incident and are working the investigation with Kemper County officials and the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
"Police officers are here to protect you; we want to make sure we do that. We take this situation very seriously," Watson said. "There's no indication otherwise (that faux traffic stops are frequently occurring in Oktibbeha County), and we hope it remains that way."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
1. Deputy shot, suspect dead after car chase COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. City increases wrecker fees COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
4. Two dead in Monroe County plane crash COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
5. Residents pack community meeting COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY