Are You Allowed to Impersonate a Police Officer in NSW?

By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

Do you remember what occupation you dreamed of having when you were a kid?

For some of us, it was one that would be exciting and adventurous, like a superhero, or maybe even a wizard.

That is, of course, until it dawned upon us that those jobs don’t actually exist.

For others, it was a career associated with fame and fortune, like becoming an actor or a professional athlete, or something that gave us the chance to help people, much like the world a doctor.

For many of us, especially those who grew up playing Cops and Robbers in the backyard or watching cop television shows, childhood dreams revolved around one day perhaps becoming a police officer.

Much like their favourite superheroes, police officers fought crime and helped citizens.

They got to wear a cool uniform, drive in fast cars, and carry a special badge, sometimes even a weapon.

Alas, as children, understanding the complexities of what exactly police officers do, along with the hard work and training it takes to become one in the pursuit of protecting citizens, was probably not in sight.

Indeed, a career in fighting crime and getting to run around with tasers and other tools of the trade just appeared to be a whole bunch of fun.

For one Queensland teenager, this certainly seemed to be the case when he was discovered allegedly impersonating a police officer by wearing a law-enforcement cap and attempting to pull over drivers on the Gold Coast’s M1.

Safe to say, he definitely misunderstood the part about a police officer’s job being to prevent crime and protect the public, or perhaps it was a case of taking his childhood dreams a little too far.

 

17-Year-Old in Police Baseball Cap Arrested for Trying to Pull Over Motorists on Gold Coast

The Brisbane Times reports that on 16 April 2019, a 17-year-old was spotted donning a Queensland police baseball cap and driving alongside unsuspecting motorists on the M1 at Carrara in an attempt to get them to pull over.

While it is believed no driver in fact fell for the teenager’s antics, police were however called to Majtlis Place in Worongary after he was recognised sleeping in the Subaru he was driving.

When police officers arrived, the teenager reversed into one police car, drove forward into another police car ramming it, and then crashed into a tree.

“He has woken up, jumped in the driver’s seat… Tried to reverse one of the police vehicles out of the way. Action needed to be taken to stop him,” Bradyn Murphy from the Queensland Police said.

 

Officers Smash Windows of Subaru to Arrest Teenager

After wedging the car between the tree and the police vehicle, officers were forced to smash the windows of the Subaru in order to arrest the teenager.

It is believed the Subaru was stolen from Reedy Creek on April 5, following which it was involved in at least six dangerous driving offences on the Gold Coast between April 25 and May 5.

The arrest brought to an end the teenager’s month-long crime spree – during which he also stole several number plates and conducted multiple dangerous driving offences.

 

Search of Vehicle Leads to Police Discovering Pocket Knife and Cannabis

Meanwhile, during a search of the boy’s vehicle, police also located a pocket knife as well as cannabis.

The Reedy Creek boy was charged with assuming the designation of a police officer.

He was also charged with five counts of dangerous driving, three counts of stealing, one count of unlawful use of a motor vehicle, possessing a knife in a public place, possessing dangerous drugs, and possessing a drug utensil.

Indeed, in a bitter twist of irony, the policeman impersonator’s stunt ultimately ended with him handcuffed in the back of a real police car.

 

Are You Allowed to Impersonate a Police Officer?

Unless you are “impersonating” a police officer for the purpose of being engaged in something solely satirical, the simple answer to this question is no – you are not allowed to impersonate a police officer.

If you pretend to be a police officer, or act in a manner that gives the impression that you are a police officer, you can face a criminal conviction, prison time and/or even a huge fine.

Examples of impersonating a police officer may include and are not limited to flashing a police badge to someone and telling them you are an undercover police officer, calling someone advising them you are a constable with the police force, and dressing up in a police uniform roaming the local shopping area pretending to be a police officer.

Prior to 1 July 2007, the offence of impersonating a police officer in NSW carried a maximum 6-months imprisonment penalty and/or $11,000 fine. Section 546D Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) replaced the previous section 204 Police Act 1990 legislation to reflect the seriousness of this offence.

What Does the Law Say about Impersonating a Police Officer in NSW?

The penalty for impersonating a police officer in NSW includes a term of imprisonment of up to 2-years and/or a fine of up to $11,000 pursuant to section 546D Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

This offence is considered a ‘summary offence’, which means that it is a type of charge will commence and finalise in the Local Court instead of a District Court. Other summary offences include drink driving charges in NSW.

The penalties are harsher for impersonating a police officer if it’s done with the intent to deceive where he/she purports to exercise a police officer’s power or function (i.e. pulling a motorist over on a road or arresting someone). The maximum penalty for this is 7-years imprisonment if dealt with in the District Court under section 546D(2) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Our criminal lawyers in Sydney appear in all courts and specialise in criminal law.

Call us to arrange a free consultation 24/7 on (02) 8606 2218.

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