published Friday, March 18th, 2011

Impersonator suspect foiled by real detective

A security guard who apparently wanted to play police officer pulled over the wrong person Tuesday, according to Dalton, Ga., police.

James Dale Smith, 58, an employee of J.J.K. Security in Chattanooga, turned on his strobe light and tried to stop a car on Shugart Road shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday, police spokesman Bruce Frazier said in a news release.

What Smith didn’t know was the car was an undercover vehicle and the driver a Dalton Police Department detective.

When the detective saw the strobe, he radioed for a marked police car and continued driving. Smith, driving a white Crown Victoria with a “Police Interceptor” icon on the back and white strobe lights mounted along with police-style radio antennas, pulled up on the driver’s side of the unmarked car and started to nudge his car toward it, Frazier said.

That’s when Smith apparently recognized the driver, Frazier said. He turned off his strobe and pulled into a RaceTrac gas station, while the detective followed him and turned on his own blue lights.

He told the detective he wasn’t trying to pull the car over, but he told investigators later that he thought the car was going too fast, Frazier said.

Smith was wearing clothing similar to a police training uniform, a dark polo shirt with 511-style cargo khaki pants and black boots, police said. He wore a Glock pistol in a belt holster, along with a spare ammunition magazine and handcuffs in a holster. He also had his security badge on his belt, according to police.

On Wednesday, Smith was charged with impersonating a law enforcement officer and impersonating a public officer or employee, Frazier said.

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