A Frederick man was charged with impersonating a police officer after an off-duty state trooper saw him use red and blue police-style lights to move past traffic near Libertytown last week, according to court records.

The trooper was driving an unmarked cruiser west on Md. 26 near Dollyhyde Road at 6:26 p.m. on Oct. 30 when he noticed a car driving behind him without its headlights on, according to charging documents filed Monday in Frederick County District Court. A short time later, the trooper saw red and blue lights flashing behind the car behind him and assumed an on-duty law enforcement officer was pulling the car over or attempting to pass to respond to an emergency, the documents state. After moving aside to let the car pass, the trooper became suspicious when he noticed the car with the emergency lights was a silver Ford Focus, which promptly turned off its lights and stopped at the next red light, at Md. 26 and Md. 75.

The trooper pulled alongside the Focus and, after signaling to the driver to roll his window down, asked him where he was driving when he turned on his red and blue lights. But the driver of the Focus, later identified as 57-year-old James Michael Coons, denied having lights in his car, even though a lighting box was clearly attached to the Ford’s windshield with suction cups, according to the documents.

Coons complied when the trooper told him to pull over after the intersection. As soon as he stopped, Coons got out of his car to talk to the trooper, prompting the trooper to order him to get back in his car and wait for the trooper to approach, the documents state.

In a conversation on the side of the road, Coons told the trooper that he had used yellow flashing lights, to which the trooper replied that he had clearly seen red and blue lights. Coons then said that he was allowed to use red and blue lights for his job as a facilities director at McDaniel College in Westminster, according to the documents. Eventually, Coons said that he purchased both a yellow flashing light and emergency red and blue lights to allow him to park in designated no-parking areas on campus.

Coons further said that he had used the red and blue lights because the car in front of him had cut him off twice and that the other driver was upsetting him, the documents state. Coons also admitted using the lights to move past traffic in the past.

“I would be lying if I said this was the first time,” Coons told the trooper, according to charging documents.

Coons, of the 6300 block of Meandering Woods Court, was released to allow the trooper to consult the county state’s attorney’s office, according to a state police press release issued Tuesday. Coons was charged with impersonating a police officer, a misdemeanor subject to a maximum sentence of two years in jail and a $2,000 fine upon conviction. Coons’ trial is set for Jan. 14.

In the meantime, state police were asking anyone who might have seen Coons using emergency equipment, or who has seen a silver Ford Focus using such lights in the area, to call either the Frederick barrack at 301-663-3101 or state police headquarters at 410-653-4200.

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Jeremy Arias is the Frederick city and government reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

(3) comments


Let's focus on why this idiot was able to get away with this -- because law enforcement agencies in most areas -- including ours -- continue to use unmarked cars.

Several jurisdictions across America have actually stopped using unmarked cars -- and announced this to the public -- because of the inherent danger they pose. Sadly, one or more people must usually be raped and/or murdered by police impersonators before city or state officials realize that whatever small benefit there may be to using unmarked cars for routine traffic enforcement PALES in comparison to the risk of making it insanely easy for a criminal to pose as a LEO.

I happened to be writing about this subject on another forum recently -- one that apparently shares what people write with retailers -- and I began receiving emails from Amazon advertising red & blue emergency lights!! They have all kinds -- in grill, inside windshield, even LIGHT BARS, which make a vehicle appear like a marked cruiser, especially at night!

We can discuss whether these lights should be sold to the public, but the fact is that they are -- and with the Internet they will continue to be available.

The only way to put a stop to police impersonators is for the police to STOP USING UNMARKED CARS! There can be no justification for it -- not for routine patrol. The lights are available to anyone with a credit card, and many are very convincing. We know some people will use them illegally. Some, like the subject of the article, to cut through traffic. Others, to rob, rape, and murder.

The continued use of unmarked cars strongly implies that our representatives and law enforcement officials value revenue over our safety.

The fact is, the current crop of marked cars are difficult to spot (low profile light bars, more subtle decals, etc) so any argument that unmarked cars are necessary to catch drivers violating traffic laws is mute.

Karl Bickel, if you are reading this I am interested in your opinion.




Amazingly he tried to reason with the trooper after being caught red handed.

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