Press release from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office Thursday, November 8, 2:01 p.m.
During the follow up investigation of the traffic stop involving a possible police impersonator, we have been able to verify the person involved was an Ohio State Highway Patrol employee. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office will be forwarding information from the report to the OSHP. There is no danger to the public. Citizens may request to see an officer’s identification, or call the dispatch center if they are unsure about an officer’s legitimacy.
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MOUNT VERNON — Trisha Ridenour was out delivering the Mount Vernon News when a black SUV behind her activated a siren and a dash-mounted strobe light.
Ridenour, who was doing her route on Northern Spy Drive in Apple Valley, was approached by a man in a jacket with a patch that read simply “Highway Patrol.” The man told her he’d pulled her over for speeding.
Right away, Ridenour said she knew something wasn’t right. While delivering papers, she noticed the SUV pull up on the road, then back slightly. When he got behind her, Ridenour said, she expected him to go around. Instead, he activated a siren.
The man said he’d pulled Ridenour over for driving 35 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone. Ridenour had been going from newspaper box to newspaper box, and hadn’t gone over the speed limit, she said.
After speaking briefly to Ridenour, the man said he was going to let her go with a warning. Then he made a warning of his own.
“He said, ‘I’m around here a lot and the next time I see you, I’m giving you a ticket,’” Ridenour said. He then grabbed her seat belt, and said she couldn’t drive from where she was sitting. Like a lot of News carriers, Ridenour has modified the front seating compartment to allow her to sit closer to the passenger side, the better to deliver papers.
According to News Circulation Manager, the Ohio Revised Code allows newspaper carriers to not wear a seat belt when out on delivery.
Ridenour said the man turned off the dash-mounted light before speaking to her, unusual because police keep their lights on when conducting a traffic stop.
Ridenour said she didn’t feel frightened by the man. He seemed to be in a hurry, and had a “cocky” attitude, Ridenour said. If he tries to pull her over again, “I’m not going to stop for him,” she told the News.
The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident. The suspect is described as a white male standing 5-feet 7-inches tall, weighing 160 pounds and having short black hair. The suspect vehicle is a newer black GMC SUV and may have a star symbol on the door. Ridenour said the patch looked like the kind a security guard might wear, and did not have the usual Ohio State Highway Patrol logo, such as wings. The man was wearing a black jacket, and Ridenour said she did not see a firearm or other weapon.
Anyone with information should contact the Knox County Sheriff’s Office at 740-397-3333 ext. 1.