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They cuffed people and wrote police reports - but they weren't real cops, Michigan police say

Police in Flint, Michigan, say they've charged three people who were allegedly part of a group that impersonated officers. Flint police say the group would respond to crime scenes and fires, sometimes even fooling real officers.
Police in Flint, Michigan, say they've charged three people who were allegedly part of a group that impersonated officers. Flint police say the group would respond to crime scenes and fires, sometimes even fooling real officers. File

A squad of fake police officers allegedly responded to calls, kept incident logs, and even detained people under the nose of the real police force — and had been doing it for years, WNEM reported.

"They responded to some 911 calls where they were actually the first alleged police officers on scene, and real police when they showed up asked them to assist, asked them to submit reports," Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton told the station.

Police say the group, which calls itself the Genesee County Fire and EMS Media-Genesee County Task Force Blight Agency, has been impersonating officers since 2015, according to the Flint Journal.

"We think at least one of them was armed, we think they all had badges, they all had some type of credentials," Leyton told WJRT.

The fake officers worked every day of the week, dressed like police, carried cuffs, wrote reports, and had a chief and deputy chief, Genesee County Park Ranger Chief Kevin Shanlian told WNEM.

"I'm not 100 percent sure what their motivation was. I know they were getting together in the beginning as a community watch group, but that obviously got out of hand," Shanlian told the station.

Now officials have charged three people in connection with the case. Two were arraigned on three counts of unlawful imprisonment and one count of impersonating a peace officer to commit a crime, and a third person was being extradited back to the county, according to the Flint Journal. Others were listed as co-defendants in the case but were not yet charged, according to the paper.

"You can't do this. It's a crime, it's a felony and as you can see we're gonna treat it very harshly," Leyton told WJRT.

The alleged scheme broke down when someone called Shanlian to complain about some "rude" park rangers, according to the Flint Journal. When he began to investigate, he realized the rangers weren't rangers at all.

"I believe there's probably hundreds of victims who were actually detained and didn't have good experiences with these folks," Shanlian told the paper.

"I mean, I don't know what's in these individuals heads. I don't know if they think they're playing games. This is not a game. Law enforcement is serious business," Leyton told WJRT.

Now police are working to find any other members of the fake police group.

"We believe they've done this to other people," Leyton told the Flint Journal. "We're asking people to come forward if, in fact, they believe they've been victimized by people they don't believe are real police officers."

Nellie and Charles Khanamoko talk about a fake call they received claiming to be from the IRS demanding immediate payment or arrest. Both the IRS and police say it is a common scam and the IRS never calls first. They mail letters. (Star-Telegram/R

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