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Impersonating an Officer

I remember in April 2017 when Joseph Michael Conover, the former “chief” of a private security company was sentenced by then Senior Resident Judge Donald Stephens for felonious obstruction of justice, four counts of failure to discharge the duties of his office, four counts of simple assault, three counts of misdemeanor obstruction of justice and one count of false imprisonment.

I remember Judge Stephens calling him “as bad a cop as you could be.”

I also remember in 2019 a former Wake County Deputy was charged with a DWI and impersonating an officer when he allegedly showed the stopping officer his old Wake County Sheriff’s Office badge. I do not wish to link to the article because I cannot find the case in the court system – it appears to have been dismissed and expunged – but I recall thinking that this person, however good a person he is, should not be in a position of power over other people. Later he was charged with misdemeanor larceny.

It would be absolutely unconscionable for a person in authority (a police officer or public official) to have been charged with impersonating an officer, or obstructing justice, or illegally attempting to serve a search warrant and for that charge to have been sealed or otherwise hidden from public view by authorities. And I know that would never happen in Wake County.

I remember thinking that this conduct does not reflect the good work that I see police do every day and that the old adage, “no one hates a bad cop more than a good cop,” is true.

Impersonating or, as in Conover’s case, overstepping authority is as bad as it gets because citizens understand that every interaction with a police officer is an interaction that can result in the severest consequences: citations, charges, arrest, or even, if force is used, injury or death.

Police officers or people falsely claiming to be police officers in order illegally to enter homes or conduct arrests violate the most precious rights a human being has in this society.

Someone, knowing he lacks the legal authority to enter a home or conduct an arrest, acts in that way simply cannot be entrusted with the special authority we put in officers of the law. Prosecutors and Defense Lawyers of good conscience and good faith, who see the consequences of arrests every day, know this fact in their hearts.

All of this is to say that someone who commits that crime or violates that trust is still a human being, who deserves our love and our support.

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