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Man arrested for impersonating Milwaukee County Sheriff Deputy

NOW: Man arrested for impersonating Milwaukee County Sheriff Deputy

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A Milwaukee man has been arrested after impersonating an officer last month.

The man told all his neighbors and even opened a bank account here, while impersonating a Milwaukee County Sheriff deputy.

"'I was in Iraq, I was in Iran, I was in so many active gun battles.' This is what he was telling me," said Shawn Giese.

At first, Giese had nothing but respect for his new neighbor, a veteran, and an officer.

"He wore the same pants and boots, and he had a big flashlight in his pocket, gun on his hip, and an undercover cop badge,” said Giese.

But soon enough his record of service, and his uniforms didn’t add up.

"One day I saw him with the badge on and a gun out here and I said 'nice necklace,' and he said, 'Oh yeah I'm a cop," and things just continued to not add up the entire time," Giese said that was the first time he had ever seen the man in any officer uniform. He says his neighbor mostly wore a soldier uniform.

That man, 36-year-old Damien James, told multiple neighbors and a bank teller at a BMO Harris bank in West Allis he was a Milwaukee County Sheriff deputy, who helped escort Officer Michalski’s body.

"It's extremely discouraging when you hear that someone uses a police officer's badge to dupe the public," said Sheriff Richard Schmidt, Milwaukee County.

This incident also isn't the first time the man impersonated an officer. James has been charged for pretending to be a police officer in Dane County last year, and in Walworth County in 1999.

"I don't know why he's doing it, but there's something criminally wrong with this individual to keep trying to play cop," said Sheriff Schmidt.

As a convicted felon, James is not allowed to have a gun. Charges are still pending for the firearm and impersonating an officer.

According to court records, James didn't try to pull someone over, but Sheriff Schmidt says a lot of police impersonators do try to make a traffic stop. If you aren't sure whether a real officer pulled you over, he suggests one way to verify. Although, the sheriff says you have to be careful, quick and courteous because if you are pulled over by a real officer, and you do not engage with them, you could get in trouble for resisting.

"If they're not in a marked squad with decals on it... Most everybody travels with a cell phone. If they have doubt, call 911 right away. Say, 'I just got pulled over by, it appears to be a police officer, but i'm in doubt,' and they can check on it and see if a squad was actually pulled over. We're supposed to radio in every time. Every agency does. If you get pulled over they're radioing into their dispatcher," said Sheriff Schmidt.

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