Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Fake Cops Robbed Drug Dealers

Something that's always bothered me about the nature of police is that we're all expected to drop whatever we're doing and go into submissive "sir, yes, sir" mode just because someone says they're a cop. Or just looks or acts like one.

The entire security guard industry takes advantage of this socialized Pavlovian response by deliberately dressing security guards in police-style uniforms. Campus "toy cops", Impotent "mall cops", and all-purpose paunchy dudes hired to stand around looking vaguely official - they all depend on the appearance of being cop-like, in the hope that the illusion will bluff the public into cooperating with them.

Sure, real police are supposed to identify themselves as such, but really, anyone can put on a cop suit and flash a badge and say they're a cop. And some enterprising louts in Pikeville recently did just that. According to

A welder and former coal-company employee pleaded guilty Monday to using a gun in a scheme to impersonate police and Operation UNITE investigators and rob people of pills and cash in Letcher and Knott counties.

Tony Ray Herald said he worked with Vernon Todd Griffie, a former Perry County volunteer sheriff's deputy, to go to the homes of people they suspected of being drug dealers. They would scope out the houses and arrange to buy drugs, he said.

Later, the two would return dressed as sheriff's deputies or police officers, claiming to be part of the Operation UNITE Eastern Kentucky drug task force. They would put the victims in handcuffs and take cash and pills.

A federal judge in Pikeville set Herald's sentencing date for Aug. 17. The charges carry a penalty of at least seven years in prison.

The hilarity of druggies pretending to be cops so they can steal from other druggies is so great, it almost begs to be made into a movie, a play, or an HBO series.

But I'd love to know what happened after the fake cops left their marks. Didn't the druggies wonder why they hadn't been taken to jail? Didn't they think it was weird that the cops would confiscate their drugs AND their money, but then set them free? Perhaps they also wondered why these cops were driving an old mud-covered pickup truck instead of a cop car.

But even if they figured it out, what were they gonna do - call the police and say "hey dude, somebody robbed our meth lab"? Because of this Catch-22 inherent in criminals being robbed by other criminals, there was really no reason to impersonate cops in the first place. I suppose they just liked playing dress-up.

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