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NCSO: Man claiming to be an officer faces charges

COVINGTON — A Covington man who thought he was doing a good deed found himself behind bars when he apparently took it too far.

John Cody Holland Oakes, 29, called 911 around 9:20 p.m. Thursday and said he was with the police department and he was following a suspected DUI driver on Brown Bridge Road, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office reported.

He flashed his headlights repeatedly until the suspect vehicle pulled into the Valero gas station at 11260 Brown Bridge Road. While he never got out of his car, Oakes followed the vehicle and then yelled out the driver’s side window that he was with the police and instructed them to move further into the parking lot, said Sgt. Cortney Morrison.

“When deputies arrived, they saw the subjects in the suspected DUI vehicle with their hands outside the windows,” Morrison said.

They then approached the vehicle and quickly determined that neither the driver nor the passenger was intoxicated or had any alcohol or any other substance with them.

“They told the deputy that they were coming home from work where they just finished a 12-hour shift and they were tired, so maybe that’s why they swerved,” Morrison said.

The deputy then talked to Oakes who said that he saw the car swerve onto the center yellow line several times and got them to stop by flashing his lights, according to the report.

“The deputy explained that that while he had good intentions, you cannot claim to be law enforcement to get people to pull over,” Morrison said.

Oakes, of 535 Lummus Road, was then arrested and charged with impersonating a police officer.

Morrison said most traffic stops are conducted by deputies using marked patrol cars. However, in the event where a deputy in an unmarked vehicle attempts to pull over a driver in a situation, Morrison said that car – like all patrol cars – will activate its blue lights.

“But anytime an individual is concerned about the legitimacy of an officer attempting to pull him over, we suggest they call 911 and explain that they are trying to be pulled over and want to know if there is a deputy conducting a traffic stop at that time,” she said.

Any time a deputy is going to make contact with a citizen – whether through a traffic stop or a visit at their home – it will be called in through dispatch so there is a record of where every deputy is, she said.

Morrison said the same advice applies if a citizen is being pulled over late at night or in an area where the person may not feel safe.

“Just call 911 and explain that you are planning to stop, but you want to get to a lighted area. Dispatch will communicate that with the deputy so they know there is no attempt to flee,” she said.