Police say a drunk motorist in a fake police vehicle was arrested after he carelessly sped around Saanich Wednesday night, with officers finding drugs and an imitation handgun in the car — as well as a young child.
Saanich Police say they were called at around 9 p.m. by witnesses who saw the older vehicle, a white early ’90s Chrysler Dynasty, flashing blue-and-white lights while speeding erratically on Trans-Canada Highway near the Burnside Road exit.
Officers tracked the car down to a gas station in the 300-block of Burnside Road West, where it had pulled in. They were shocked to see the young child, who police have since confirmed was under 10 years old, in the back seat of the vehicle as they approached.
The child was returned “safely” to an immediate family member and was only a relative of the driver, police said.
Investigators also found drugs and a replica handgun determined to be a BB gun during a search of the vehicle.
They also discovered equipment that portrayed the Chrysler as a police vehicle, albeit an older one, including several flashing blue and white lights on the front bumper and inside the windshield, side windows and rear window, as well as a CB radio and large fixed antenna.
The man was served an immediate 90-day roadside prohibition for allegedly driving while drunk and taken into custody on suspicion of impersonating an officer, possession for the purpose of trafficking and breach of firearms prohibition. The Chrysler, which was registered under his name, was impounded for 30 days.
Even though the driver did not explicitly identify himself as a police officer, he obtained the lights — ones “you can purchase online fairly cheap,” said Saanich Police spokesperson Const. Markus Anastasiades — and operated them while driving in a manner that caused concern.
“While the driver did not identify himself as a police officer to any member of the public that police were aware of that evening, he used his vehicle in a manner that was likely to cause the public to believe that he was a police officer,” Anastasiades said in a statement.
“What was most shocking was that he was in the care of a young child while he drove while impaired and in such a careless and dangerous manner.”
Later reached by phone, Anastasiades told CHEK News the incident is “highly unusual” given the imitation police cruiser and young age of the child in the back seat.
“First we’ve ever seen of this and very unfortunate that this person made a series of very poor choices, the main thing being operating the vehicle in such a manner with the child in the back seat,” said Anastasiades.
No charges have been laid yet, but police say they’re expected.