WEIRD CASESIn a recent incident in Detroit, a police officer in a car cruised slowly by a prostitute at theroadside, flash...
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Day 3 - Weird Cases - Impersonating a Police Officer

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Day 3 - Weird Cases - Impersonating a Police Officer

  1. 1. WEIRD CASESIn a recent incident in Detroit, a police officer in a car cruised slowly by a prostitute at theroadside, flashed his police badge and shouted “get off the street”. But things were not asthey seemed. In a drama soon to be explained to a criminal court in Wayne County, the judgewill hear how the police officer was really a criminal and the prostitute was really a policeofficer.In Southwest Detroit, following complaints about prostitutes on the street, the local policedepartment’s boldly titled Morality Unit went out on a sting operation. A female officerdressed as a sex worker was on the street about 5pm and was talking to a potential client – orpotential convict as he was in her eyes. Then William Quirindango drove up, identified himselfas a police officer and challenged the prostitute. Hearing that, her prospective client ran awayvery fast. ‘Officer’ Quirindango continued to hassle the prostitute repeatedly barking at her thenews that he was a police officer. The prostitute then revealed that she was in fact a policedetective on an undercover operation, at which point Quirindango evidently rememberedsome other urgent cop business he had to attend to and sped off.Quirindango was not far into his next phantom mission, though, when he was caught by realofficers. He denied he had done anything wrong but the police found in his car a DetroitPolice Department (DPD) badge, items of police uniform including hats with PDP logos, and aloaded .40-calibre Glock handgun. He was taken into custody and will stand trial for theoffences of impersonating a police officer and unlawful possession of a police badge anduniform.Mistaken identity in a legal context has caused problems in other countries. In 2008 inScotland, 30 police officers raided The Arches nightclub in Glasgow. They discovered a“mass orgy”. Inside the club, all 30 of the officers stormed over to an area behind a partitionwhere they found many men engaged as a group in gay sex. The officers attempted to makearrests but when the orgy participants saw the men in police uniforms waving truncheons andhandcuffs, they assumed it was all part of the orgy and enthusiastically tried to incorporate theofficers into the recreational mêlée. It took a while for the officers effectively to communicatetheir true purpose.The legal theatre of the absurd has, though, a precedent of even more prodigious confusion.On the office wall of the late broadcaster and oral historian Studs Terkel was an enlarged andframed clipping taken from a Bangkok newspaper report from the early 1970s. It recorded abattle between police and a gang of bandits in southern Thailand in which a man was killed.In the news report a police spokesman is quoted as saying that the deadly battle began“when the bandit gang, disguised as policeman, challenged a group of policemen, disguisedas bandits.”Gary Slapper is Professor of Law at The Open University. His new book Weird Cases ispublished by Wildy, Simmonds & Hill.These articles were published by The Times Online as part of the weekly column written byGary Slapper

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