Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre announced a Choctaw man was arrested on Friday for impersonating a police officer after attempting to make a traffic stop on a vehicle. Peter Chiasson (50, W/M) was arrested following an investigation into the incident.
On Friday, June 19, deputies responded to a call at around 3:45 p.m. of a woman stating a blue pickup truck with a flashing blue strobe light had attempted to pull her over on Laurel Valley Road in Thibodaux. Deputies learned the woman continued eventually pulled into the driveway at a relative’s residence, and the driver of the pickup truck continued along the roadway.
Deputies began patrolling the area for the suspect’s vehicle and found one matching the description, including a blue dashboard light, parked at a residence in the 2600 block of Choctaw Road. Deputies made contact with the truck’s owner, Peter Chiasson, who admitted to his involvement. He claimed he was “playing a joke” on the woman. Upon a background review, deputies discovered Chiasson is not a commissioned law enforcement officer.
Deputies placed Chiasson under arrest for False Personation of a Police Officer (R.S. 14:112). He was transported to the Lafourche Parish Detention Center in Thibodaux where he was booked accordingly. He was subsequently released on Friday night after posting $10,000 bond as had been set by Judge Christopher J. Boudreaux.
Per Louisiana Revised Statute 14:112, False Personation of a Police Officer is defined as impersonating any public officer or assuming any uniform or badge by which such officer or person is lawfully distinguished. Sheriff Webre says citizens must not only be aware of this law, but also of the laws which make it illegal to use certain lighting on non-law-enforcement vehicles and/or privately-owned vehicles:
- R.S. 32:317 makes it illegal to have a spotlight on your vehicle.
- R.S. 32:318 makes it illegal to have blue-colored lights on your vehicle.
- R.S. 32:327 makes it illegal to use flashing lights, except turn signals and hazard lights.
Sheriff Webre says if any vehicle, other than a clearly-marked, traditional police car, is flashing lights at you or attempting to initiate a traffic stop on your vehicle in some manner, you should activate your hazard lights (“flashers”), reduce your speed, and dial 9-1-1 from your cell phone to ensure the vehicle is, in fact, a law enforcement officer. Dispatchers will quickly be able to confirm whether the vehicle in question is, in fact, a deputy or another law enforcement officer. If you are unable to call for any reason, stop your vehicle in a well-lit area, preferably where other individuals are present.
If, after being stopped, you suspect the person is not a legitimate law enforcement officer, ask for the person’s name and badge number, ask them to show credentials, and then contact the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office at (985) 532-2255 to report the incident afterward. Deputies will either be able to confirm the person who stopped you was, in fact, a law enforcement officer, or they will begin investigating the suspect in the incident.