A person posing as a law enforcement officer has been randomly stopping vehicles and ordering their driver and passengers to go home.
Sheriff Mike Herrington said Thursday his office has received multiple reports of a white male, described as tall and skinny, pulling them over.
The man conducting the stops, Herrington said, has told people they must go home in accordance with recent public health orders issued by the New Mexico Department of Health.
Roswell Police and the New Mexico State Police have also received a handful of reports of similar incidents and are looking for a suspect, Todd Wildermuth, public information officer for the Roswell Police Department, said Thursday.
The man is reportedly driving either a black or white sedan equipped with red lights and a spotlight, and has pulled over people who have not committed a crime or a traffic violation.
Herrington said people have reported that after getting pulled over, the man asks them what they are doing out and if they are “essential.”
The man then orders them to go home.
Earlier this week, the New Mexico Department of Health issued an order signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordering all businesses not deemed essential by the state to close in an attempt to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). She and other public health officials have also called on people to adhere to social distancing practices and stay home.
Herrington though said his deputies, as well as Roswell Police and New Mexico State Police, only stop vehicles if a person is suspected of committing a crime or a traffic violation.
“We are fine with you going to the store, we are fine with you going to the doctor, we’re fine with you going to a restaurant, picking up your food and taking it home. We don’t have any issues with any of that, no matter what time of day it is,” he said.
The man conducting the stops could be charged with impersonating a police officer, if he is not in fact an officer.
If a person feels they have been pulled over for a reason other than a crime or a traffic violation, Herrington said they should call 911 when it happens and another officer will be dispatched to the location.
To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext, 301, or firstname.lastname@example.org.