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Can Anyone Say they are a Law Enforcement Officer?

A recent incident at the Southampton Center has citizens wondering.

Can Anyone Say they are a Law Enforcement Officer?

Is it legal for a retired law enforcement officer to identify himself as a police officer? 

John Sheveland, a retired law enforcement officer, parking lot on June 27 and identified himself as a police officer.  The man Sheveland approached is an alleged accomplice of a woman who was seen stealing wallets from customers in Raley’s.

According to Lt. Frank Hartig of the , it was not illegal for Sheveland to identify himself as a police officer.  Hartig stressed that any action Sheveland took would be as a citizen and not on behalf of any law enforcement agency.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeff Kauffman of the Solano County District Attorney's office couldn't comment directly on the case Sheveland is involved in but generally agreed with Hartig’s opinion.  “It’s so fact dependent that there is no definitive answer,” said Kauffman.  “Merely presenting yourself improperly could be a crime.”

Kauffman went on to say that it would be more likely that a crime might be committed as a result of someone improperly identifying themselves as law enforcement officers.  For instance, if someone identified themselves as a police officer in order falsely imprison another, then the false imprisonment  would be the crime. 

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If there’s something in this article you think  should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, call editor JB Davis at 707-628-0051 or email him at benicia@patch.com.

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