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Police car lightsFake Cops Face Trial for Arresting, Detaining Unwitting Americans for Years

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Three people in Flint, Michigan, are accused of having made false arrests across Genesee County for three years while pretending to be police officers. Two of them were arraigned Thursday.

Defendants Emily Burrison and Jeffrey Jones may have been feeling blue when their bond was set to $400,000 and they were ordered fork over all the equipment they'd been using to dupe citizens into thinking they were law enforcement officers, including any handcuffs and lightbars for their vehicles, MLive reported.

Emily Burrison and Jeffrey Jones are accused of falsely arresting people while pretending to be police officers over the course of three years in Michigan.
Emily Burrison and Jeffrey Jones are accused of falsely arresting people while pretending to be police officers over the course of three years in Michigan.

They may have taken the saying "dress for the job you want" a bit too seriously, since they were also ordered to turn over any fake police uniforms they might have, too.

The pair was arraigned Thursday and were told that they'd be released on personal recognizance. That was amended and their bond was set, although it isn't clear why.


Burrison and Jones were among a group of 10 people who'd been abusing their lack of authority since October 2015, according to Chief of the Genesee County Parks Ranger Division Kevin Shanlian, who believes the group has hundreds of victims. They called themselves the Genesee County Fire and EMS Media-Genesee County Task Force Blight Agency. Seven of the faux unit's members have yet to be charged; however, five are listed as co-defendants.

The three who have been charged could go from believing they were above the law to finding themselves felons if convicted of the charges they're facing, which include three counts of unlawful imprisonment and one count of impersonating a peace officer to commit a crime.

The third man who has been charged was taken into custody in Ohio and is awaiting extradition back to Michigan for his arraignment.

That man, along with Burrison and Jones, came under investigation after some people complained to Shanlian's office about rude park rangers interrupting their picnic at the Stepping Stone Falls park.

These pretend-police approached the picnickers and told them they were trespassing since the park was closed (though it wasn't) and that they were under arrest. They handcuffed the victims and ordered them to hand over their government identification before entering their information into a laptop inside their vehicle, which had a lightbar on top, according to Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton. The fake cops then told the victims that they'd be placed on a watch list and were then let go.

But as it turned out, the "officers" weren't police or park rangers at all.


And that was just the tip of the iceberg: Leyton said that the play group kept a log and had been responding to 911 calls, too. Radio equipment available for purchase lets users listen in on police dispatches, but it is not able to tune in to 911 calls. Smartphone apps available for free and for purchase can act similarly to police scanners.


They were apparently good at their grift. "We believe that on some occasions, they were the first to show up on crime scenes," Leyton said. "On some occasions, the real police would ask them to perform tasks at the scene, not realizing they were imposters."

In Mt. Morris Township, some members of the group were turned away from the scene of a house fire, according to Terence Green, chief of police. "As far as I know, that incident was the only contact we had with that group," he said of his town's department. "He [an actual police officer] would not allow them into the crime scene."

The two lawyers  for the defendants have argued that some of the allegations against their clients are false. Jones' attorney, Matthew L Norwood, said his client had the "good intentions of making Genesee County a better place," according to MLive.