Police impersonator who pulled over a driver arrested on US 60 in Mesa
PHOENIX — A man impersonating a Mesa police officer was arrested on the U.S. 60 last week, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Sgt. Brandon Powell was driving westbound on the freeway near Lindsay Road around 2:30 p.m. on May 9 when he saw a white SUV initiate a traffic stop on another vehicle.
Powell said the SUV had red and blue strobe lights and he believed it to be an unmarked law enforcement vehicle.
Powell stopped to assist and noticed that the SUV driver, 28-year-old Joshua Hillman, did not have a firearm or a badge and was wearing a shirt with “Mesa Police” embroidered on it.
“Right away there was something that seemed off about the gentleman who was out there,” Powell said at a press conference Wednesday.
“The first thing that struck me was that he had a beard, and usually you don’t see that.”
When Powell asked about his status, Hillman said he was not a sworn law enforcement officer and was a “volunteer.”
Hillman said he pulled the driver over for having a brake light out and admitted to using red and blue lights in the past to contact stranded motorists, according to DPS.
Powell then called for a Mesa supervisor to come to the scene.
“The Mesa sergeant’s like, ‘Man, I recognize this guy from somewhere, so let me go run him through our system,'” Powell said.
“He comes back a couple minutes later and said, ‘We arrested him 10 years ago for impersonating an officer and I was the sergeant on that call,’ so he remembered him from that previous time.”
Hillman was arrested on three counts of kidnapping and one count of impersonating a police officer.
The Gilbert Police Department said in a Facebook post Wednesday that Hillman’s vehicle was reported as suspicious on April 30.
The post said the SUV was parked outside of the Target near Val Vista Drive and Warner Road and had emergency lights flashing.
🚨On April 30th, Gilbert PD was notified of a suspicious person with vehicle parked and operating with emergency lights…
Powell said if a driver is concerned about a car that is trying to make a traffic stop, he or she can turn on hazard lights, slow down, pull off at the next exit and ask for the person’s credentials.
“If it’s a marked unit and it’s a police officer dressed in a full uniform, I think you can feel pretty comfortable,” he said.
DPS asked anyone who may have had “police-type” contact with Hillman to contact the department at 877-272-8329 or submit a tip online.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report.