Albuquerque, N.M. — An Albuquerque man was arrested Monday morning for impersonating a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s officer, KOAT reports.
According to the criminal complaint, an Albuquerque police officer saw what appeared to be another officer on a traffic stop on 4th Street near I-40.
The APD officer stopped to assist and encountered Brenden Wysynski, 18, who had unlawfully stopped a vehicle, wearing plain clothes and displaying a BCSO department badge on his belt.
The officer noticed Wysynski appeared to be very young and did not have a firearm or other equipment. He questioned Wysynski and learned that he was not employed by BCSO and had outfitted his personal vehicle with police lights and a police radio.
At first, the complaint alleges the suspect told officer the badge was his late father’s, who was a BCSO officer. The investigating officers later learned there was no one with that last name ever employed with the department. Wysynski later admitted he bought the real, but outdated, badge online.
Former APD commander Nick Bakas said you should know the right questions to ask when you get pulled over by an unmarked car.
“Who are you? What is your name? What is your badge number? You can also say, ‘I want to speak to your sergeant,’” he said.
Bakas also said to look for more than just a badge. The officer should have a nameplate and patch from the department.
“Be very cautious of security designation or general police designation,” he said.
Bakas said while it may be intimidating, you also have the right to ask the officer to wait until you confirm they are legitimate with dispatch. You can also ask to have their superior dispatched, or ask them to follow you to a police station to conduct the stop.
“You want to pull over in a well-lit area with as much activity as possible,” he said.
Wysynski is being charged with impersonating a peace officer.