CLEARCREEK TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Police are searching a man who they said impersonated a police officer and pulled over a pair of motorcyclists.
Those two men also say Cody James Burton, 25, admitted he'd pulled people over in the past as a way to get girls' phone numbers.
Joey Wood and Max Evans reported that a man in a dark green Chevrolet Duramax pickup truck pulled them over on state Route 48 at about 5 p.m. Sunday. The man was wearing “tactical” gear including a police-type vest and was carrying a firearm in a thigh holster, police said.
"He had his gun unholstered when he came up to us, as well -- unholstered with his hand on it," Evans said.
The man told the motorcyclists he had stopped them for speeding, at which point Wood recognized him as Burton, police said.
"It was weird -- the whole situation was weird," Wood said. He first met Burton about four years ago, when they both rode bulls in a local rodeo. But, he said, they didn't talk much in the past two years.
"I was like, 'When did you become a cop?' He’s like, 'Oh, I've been a cop for a couple months' and all this other stuff," Wood said. "And I’m sitting here thinking there’s no way that he’s actually a real cop."
Wood and Evans said Burton let them off with a "warning," but they said they later contacted police and learned he wasn't a real officer.
The men told police Burton, 25, admitted he'd pulled over other people before because "it was a good way for him to get girls' phone numbers," Clearcreek Police Sgt. Larry Cornett said.
"It's very frightening, not only for the common citizens' safety, (but) if this person is pulling subjects over that are female, is he going to go further than just trying to get a phone number? Is he going to intimidate them into other things?" Cornett said.
Burton faces charges of impersonating a police officer, unlawful restraint and possession of criminal tools. Police talked with Burton and were planning to meet with him Wednesday, Cornett said. But he said Burton didn't show up, turned off his cell phone and isn't responding to the police department's calls.
Police asked anyone with information on Burton’s whereabouts to call the Clearcreek Division of Police at 937-425-2525. Burton is 6 feet 3 inches and about 200 pounds.
Also, police reminded drivers that if they ever suspect someone stopping them is not actually a police officer, they can call 911 to report it immediately and the dispatcher can confirm whether or not the person is a real police officer and send help if needed. Officers should also be able to provide identification when asked.