COVINGTON - Less than three weeks after a phony police officer reportedly pulled over and physically accosted a teenage girl, Newton County authorities have received another report about someone in an unmarked car attempting to make a traffic stop.
Shortly after 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, the victim told authorities she was traveling south on Salem Road when she noticed a black car with dark windows parked on the side of the road in front of Canaan Baptist Church, according to a Newton County Sheriff's Office incident report completed by Deputy Steven Ledford.
The car then reportedly pulled behind her and followed her to the intersection of Salem Road and Ga. Highway 81. After the victim made a left turn onto Ga. 81, she said the driver of the suspicious vehicle turned with her and activated some type of blue lights, Ledford said.
The 38-year-old victim, who was on the phone with her husband at the time, told her spouse that she was getting pulled over and that the officer appeared to be an investigator because he was in a black car. Her husband told her to call 911 and make sure it was an officer before she pulled over, according to the NCSO report.
The suspect reportedly continued to follow the victim onto the Covington Bypass and again flashed blue lights at her.
By the time the victim was able to ask someone at dispatch if she was actually being pulled over, the suspect pulled off onto Lower River Road.
Several deputies canvassed the area for the suspicious vehicle, but were not able to locate it.
According to Investigator Sharron Stewart, there are some similarities to this case and previous incidents reported to the NCSO.
Last month, a 17-year-old girl was stopped late at night on Brown Bridge Road by a man, who reportedly attempted to touch her inappropriately.
She described the suspect as a black man, approximately 6 feet tall with a medium build and no facial hair. He was wearing a dark uniform, either navy blue or black, and presented a "shield-shaped" badge - unlike the NCSO badges, which are star-shaped.
He was also wearing a gun and belt with equipment on it similar to what law enforcement officers wear.
The man was said to be driving a black or dark colored vehicle "shaped like" a Ford Crown Victoria, an automobile commonly driven by plain clothes law enforcement officers. That victim said there were blue lights on the dash of the car, but there was no lettering on the side of the vehicle.
"Our unmarked vehicles will not stop an individual for a traffic stop unless there is some sort of emergency, and the same goes for the GBI," Said Newton County Sheriff Joe Nichols in a previous interview with the Citizen. "There's no reason for an unmarked car to pull an individual over, and if it happens, just keep driving and call 911 to make sure the driver is a law enforcement officer."
Officers making traffic stops typically notify their dispatcher prior to pulling the car over that they are about to make a traffic stop and give a vehicle description and tag number. So, the 911 operator should be aware that the traffic stop is under way.
Nichols also pointed out that all NCSO traffic units have lettering that plainly identify the vehicle and that deputies wear khaki uniforms.
Investigators ask that anyone with information about this or a similar incident call the NCSO at 678-625-1403. Tips can also be given to the NCSO anonymously at 678-625-5007 or through their Web at www.newtonsheriffga.org and clicking on "anonymous tip line." Those who want a response from NCSO personnel should leave contact information.
Joel Griffin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.