GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In two unrelated cases, Kent County’s prosecutor charged drivers this month with impersonating police, allegedly so they could confront fellow motorists whose driving they found offensive.

Coincidentally, both cases were charged in August, but the incidents occurred on two different days in June. 

On June 23, a 75-year-old veteran from Corunna, a small town northeast of Lansing, pulled over three vehicles on I-96 in Kent and Ionia Counties.

“From what we’ve been able to tell from witness statements, the individual took matters into his own hands, was angry with the drivers out on the roadway and did a traffic stop on those individuals,” reported Lt. Michelle Robinson of Michigan State Police. “The biggest thing we want to stress to individuals on the roadway — don’t take matters into your own hands. If you see an aggressive driver, that’s where you need to call 911 … don’t ever try to make traffic stops on your own. That is illegal, and this individual was caught and charged with this crime.”

In the stop on I-96 near Lowell, a victim reported she’d been pulled over while driving westbound near Alden Nash Avenue.

“(The victim) advised the suspect was driving a blue in color Chevrolet Colorado which had blue and orange lights in the top part of the windshield,” wrote a state police trooper in a court document. “(The victim) advised the suspect activated the lights and initiated a traffic stop.”

According to the court record, the woman told state police she stopped on the shoulder of the highway and the man approached her window, flashed a badge in his wallet, and said he was a U.S. Marshal.

“(The victim) advised she was unable to read what was on the badge,” continued the trooper. “(The victim) stated the suspect advised he pulled her over for speeding, and could write her a ticket, but would have to wait for someone to show up.”

Then, the man allegedly told the woman to “slow down” before walking back to his truck.

According to the court document, the victim described the suspect as a white male, seventy to eighty-years-old with gray hair, wearing a U of M T-shirt, cargo shorts and red baseball cap.

That same witness told police she continued driving and saw the same man pull over another driver on I-96 near M-6.

It was at that point that she obtained a partial plate number from the truck, which she said had no police markings on it, though there was a K9 decal in the rear window.

In the court document, the trooper went on to write that a Kent County sheriff’s deputy conducted a search of Flock (license plate reader) cameras and located a picture of the truck from 28th Street near Kraft Avenue.

A second driver, reporting a stop by the same truck in Ionia County, had obtained the vehicle’s full license plate, which matched the plate of the truck on the Flock camera.

The court record showed state police also conducted a photograph line-up, during which the first driver identified the registered owner of the truck as the man who pulled her over.

In a second incident that occurred June 13, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office said a 50-year-old man from Wayland followed a vehicle into the Mister Car Wash on 84th Street in Byron Township.

In that case, the suspect allegedly flashed a badge at car wash staff and said, “Let me in, I’m pursuing a vehicle,” reported Sgt Eric Brunner of KCSO.

Brunner told News 8 the suspect then boxed in the driver he was “pursuing,” preventing him from leaving the car wash.

“He said, ‘I’m a police officer, watch how you’re driving,’” said Brunner.

Investigators identified that imposter too and recovered the badge he’d allegedly used.

If either suspect is convicted on the misdemeanor charge of false personation of a public officer, he could get up to one year in jail.

“We are seeing an increase in aggressive driving habits out on the roadway,” said Lt. Michelle Robinson of Michigan State Police. “If another driver frustrates you, don’t take matters into your own hands. Call law enforcement and let us contact that individual. Don’t try to do that yourself.”

If someone tries to pull you over and you’re not sure they’re legitimate, Robinson urges you to call 911 on your hands-free device to verify the pursuing vehicle is indeed a law enforcement officer.

If you can’t safely call 911, Robinson encourages you to go to a public location that’s well-lit and populated.

“Go to a public place that’s safe,” cautioned Robinson. “That way you can get off the highway. You can go to that location and request that law enforcement come to you.”  

If you tend to have a lead foot, Robinson urged you to use cruise control.

“Our troopers are stopping people for going 90 miles an hour plus out on the expressways, and the speed limit’s still 70 miles an hour,” said Robinson. “We’ve had individuals say, ‘If we’re driving 70, we’re going to get run over out there.’ If you stay in that right-hand lane, keep it consistently at the speed limit, and let those (speeders) go by. Eventually, we’re going to have a patrol car. They’re going to get caught, and they’re going to get a citation for speeding.”

Robinson also encouraged drivers not to react to another motorist’s rage.

“Just take the high road,” she said. “Let them go by and know that you’ve done a better deed than they have.”