Encounter with driver of fake cop car 'bizarre,' Oakland sheriff says

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Pontiac A man driving what appeared to be a police car didn’t fool Oakland County's sheriff.

Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said he was driving north on Telegraph after leaving a meeting in Bloomfield Township and heading to his office in Pontiac between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday when he spotted the suspicious vehicle. 

This vehicle stopped Thursday by Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard has a push bumper like those used on police cruisers.

"I noticed this vehicle that looked similar to Bloomfield Township police vehicles," he said. "It had these gray markings, police antennas on top, it said police interceptor on the back and gray 911 decals on the side."

In addition, it had bumpers and light arrays like the ones found on many police vehicles as well as an "emergency response" decal on the front door, he said. 

"I thought 'That's weird,'" the sheriff said Friday. "It didn't identify the community or the agency. That's unusual."

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said this vehicle, which he pulled over Thursday, had police markings but not those of any particular department, which raised his suspicion.

He noticed the vehicle had numbers on the back that indicated it was part of a fleet and decals that read "K-9: Stay back" on the rear doors.

Bouchard also observed the rear windows were rolled down about an inch and half and he could see a cage for canines through the windows.

"That struck me as odd, too, because our canine units aren't typically driving down Telegraph with the windows down in the winter," he said. "We have heating and cooling systems in the car to take care of the animals."

He said he then looked at the license plate of the vehicle and it didn't have the special designation police vehicles have.

Finally, the sheriff said, the windows were tinted and he couldn't see who was driving the vehicle.

Bouchard ran the license plate and it came back registered to a home in Waterford Township, he said.

"I thought, 'None of this is making sense at all and it doesn't add up,'" he said. 

A view of the front plate of the vehicle Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard pulled over Thursday.

By the the time he and the suspicious vehicle were in the city of Pontiac, Bouchard called deputies at the Pontiac substation for backup on a traffic stop.

The sheriff pulled the vehicle over and approached the driver. 

"It got even more bizarre," he said. "Inside the car, he had the head of a radar system mounted to the windshield, he had cameras at the front and rear of the vehicle and a mounted computer facing the driver. It looked exactly like our computer-aided dispatch set up."

The sheriff said the vehicle and equipment would look genuine to the untrained eye.

"He looks at me and says, ‘Who are you?’ And I said, ‘I’m the sheriff. Who are you?’” Bouchard said.

The man was arrested. The sheriff said the driver was wearing regular street clothes. 

Bouchard said he and his deputies searched the vehicle and found a loaded .45 semi-automatic glock and an 8-10-inch Bowie-style hunting knife. The man does not have a concealed pistol license, according to the sheriff.

He said the suspect will likely face charges for carrying a loaded handgun and the knife in his vehicle. He will also likely face charges for having a vehicle with a oscillating blue lights or siren, which is illegal for anyone except police officers to have under state law, Bouchard said. 

A member of the Oakland County Sheriff's Office approaches vehicle with police-like markings that was pulled over Thursday.

He said detectives continue to investigate why the man had the vehicle or what he was doing with it, but it's still early in the process.

"We're still trying to run down what he was doing with this vehicle or if he's stopped anyone in the past," the sheriff said. "He initially said that sometimes he helps police. I don't know what that means."

Authorities seek the public’s help to find out if anyone has been pulled over by this vehicle. Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at  (800) 773-2587.


Twitter: @CharlesERamirez

Associated Press contributed.