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.