Feb 162003
Authors: Patrick Crossland

With age, pretending is something most people grow out of.

That is what Ernie Chavez, the department chair of psychology at CSU, said when asked about psychological issues surrounding police impersonators.

“It’s an unusual thing to do; it’s an issue of immaturity,” Chavez said.

A press release from Fort Collins Police Services on Feb. 12 said authorities are seeking assistance in identifying a police impersonator, one of two reported incidences of police impersonation in a week.

Crime such as impersonating an officer may result as a need for authority, Chavez said.

“Being an officer opens doors that otherwise wouldn’t be open,” Chavez said. “There is a prestige and trust that goes with being an officer.”

Chavez said criminals take advantage of the trust and use it to get away with their crime.

“Others want to get away with more,” he said. “You’re not going to open your door to anybody, but may for someone who flashes a badge.”

For some police impersonators the psychological problem stems from a blurring of boundaries between right and wrong.

Chavez used road rage as an example, saying if boundaries blurred, one might feel the authority to take the law into their hands, among other possibilities.

“It makes you feel like you’ve got control over this uncontrollable situation that makes you angry,” Chavez said.

What seems to be an increase in police impersonators may be a public response to already existing criminal activity.

“People become more aware,” said FCPS Spokesperson Rita Davis. “More (victims) may be coming forward and reporting incidences.”

Despite Fort Collin’s reputable history, Davis said this type of criminal activity happens more than some might expect, particularly in bigger cities.

“These kind of incidences happen a lot more than people are aware,” she said.

Individuals tend to report more incidences when numerous victims speak out. Davis said victims report impersonators because of a confirmation that someone else might be experiencing this.

“People say maybe this is something I should make someone aware of,” Davis said.

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