I Carry a Badge: Officer Imposter
Every once in a while there's an article on someone pretending to be a police man. They Internet-order a blue light for the top of their car, a blue shirt, a powerful flashlight, an NYPD or ATF cap, and some sort of real-fake or fake-real badge, and they're off...
I suppose that some of these folks are harmless goobers, who just want to sit around their police scanner in uniform pretending to be something they're not. Others, I know, are out and out criminals.
Then there are the wannabes who manage to put their fantasies into action.
One such poser was profiled in yesterday's NY Times - on page 1, on less, which is probably the first time that the hamlet of Gerald, Missouri received that kind of play.
The story is a good one.
Gerald is one of those commonplace, no places that have become methamphetamine centers, where a disproportionate number of locals spend their time emptying out Sudafed capsules and cooking up whatever's in them in their home-made meth labs. (These are the folks we have to thank every time we buy some sort of cold remedy and have to show an ID.)
In any case, Gerald's efforts to crack down on the meth trade were given a boost a few months back when a self-proclaimed federal agent appeared on their scene and started assisting the local police force.
"Sergeant Bill" was able to con the gullible local constabulary into believing that - because he was a Fed - they didn't need no stinkin' search warrants, which gave a real lift to the anti-meth crusade. In just a few months, they managed to bust at least 17 individuals - that's the number of plaintiffs involved in a civil rights lawsuit; there may have been more arrests - a pretty hefty number, given Gerald's population, which is a bit under 1,200.
As it turns out, the closest Sergeant Bill has come to being a real law enforcement officer was a stint as a security guard, a bit of temp work as a policy officer in other tiny towns in Missouri and Illinois, where - apparently - you can work for short periods of time as an "uncertified" policeman (something I'm guessing doesn't happen in big cities all that often).
He wore a black shirt that said POLICE on the front (and, I guess, not "World Tour 1986" on the back).
To keep his ruse going, Jakob got a phone line that was answered by someone saying, "Multi-jurisdictional Task Force", a name apparently drawn from the Beverly Hills Cop movies.
And, oh, yes, Bill Jakob also rolls with a Crown Victoria which, as we all know from police shows, is the car for detectives from as far back as the time when Karl Malden and Michael Douglas kept the streets of San Francisco safe.
In any case, Jakob rode that Crown Vic into town one day and proceeded to help the locals clean the town up - just like in days of yore, when cowboy movies were full of uncredentialed law-men who mysterious rode into town, slapped on a badge, and took out the bad guys. ("My hero!")
The story raises a couple of questions.
First there's the question of how the folks in charge in Gerald, Missouri, got conned by this guy. Maybe they just didn't want to look a gift horse - or gift Crown Vic - in the mouth.
They obviously should have. Having failed to do so, 3 of the 5 town police officers lost their jobs.
Then there's the issue of what was motivating Bill Jakob - whose c.v. includes ownership of a failed trucking company and work as a "wedding minister" - to begin with.
Okay, Federal drug agent has got to be more alluring than driving a truck or administering weddings.
But didn't it ever occur to this yo-yo that, in acting out his fantasy, he was doing something that was illegal?
Jakob's lawyers attribute the situation to "'errors in judgement.'"
“It was an innocent evolution, where he helped with one minor thing, then one more on top of that, and all of the sudden, everyone thought he was a federal agent,” Mr. Schwartz said. “I’m not saying this was legal or lawful. But look, they were very, very effective while he was present. I don’t think Gerald is having the drug problem they were having. I’ve heard from some residents who were thrilled that he was there.”
Ah, yes, the old 'innocent evolution' defense.
Jakob was unmasked by Linda Trest, a reporter for The Gasconade County Republican.
Responding to complaints from some of those who'd been rousted out of bed and had their homes ransacked by a Jakob-led "Multi-jurisdictional Task Force", Trest did a little detecting on her own and managed to find out what the story was on Jakob in short time. (I guess the Gerald PD isn't familiar with Google.)
So now poor Gerald is a laughing-stock. It's unlikely that any of the arrests - whether those of innocent by-standers or true meth dealers - will stand. And Bill Jakob will likely find himself on the other side of the bars looking out.
It's one crazy world, isn't it?
And why is it that no one ever tries to impersonate a marketing person? ("She claimed to be a marketing professional. She talked a good game. But then we found out, she was really just a waitress."