Cops or not? It can be difficult to tell

THE disturbing story of an off-duty police woman being approached by men allegedly impersonating police officers near Traralgon last week has police advising drivers to be vigilant.

Seven men were arrested in relation to allegedly impersonating police following the incident on the Princes Freeway, near Traralgon, last Friday.

An off-duty policewoman told investigators she was travelling along the Princes Freeway on Friday, March 8, about 3.10am when a car approached her vehicle from behind with red and blue lights flashing.

The policewoman pulled over, but became suspicious of the car’s occupants and attempted to drive off.

A second vehicle pulled up in front of her car, blocking her in.

At that stage she identified herself as a member of Victoria Police and both vehicles drove away.

As a result of investigations conducted by Traralgon police, seven local youths, aged between 16 and 18 years, were arrested and interviewed over the incident.

They have been released pending summons.

Officer in charge of Highway Patrol at Bairnsdale Sgt Dwayne Morrison said by law, if a vehicle was flashing red and blue lights and headlights, and was perhaps also sounding a siren, drivers were required to pull over and stop.

He said most police in unmarked cars would be in uniform. If they weren’t, as might be the case with members of the Crime Investigation Unit, drivers should be extra vigilant and request they showed their badges or a photo identification.

“You’d want to ask to see ID and make sure they are police,” he said.

Sgt Morrison said if drivers were unsure, they could phone 000, which would know what units were in the area.

“If a motorist has been instructed by a police member to pull over they are bound by law to do so,” he said.

“They can face charges if they don’t pull over.”