Fairmount Heights MD Council Member Charged With Impersonating a Police Officer

By Aaron C. Davis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Prince George's County police say they are investigating whether a Fairmount Heights Town Council member has been impersonating a police officer after he was arrested outside a crowded dance early Saturday with a gun and bulletproof vest, police radio and several law enforcement badges.

Nathaniel R. Mines Jr., 39, has served as an elected council member for eight years in Fairmount Heights, which borders Northeast Washington. He is charged with having a 9mm handgun in his vehicle and telling county police that he is a member of the Fairmount Heights Police Department. It is the second time since 1996 that Mines has been charged with impersonating an officer; the first case in the District was dropped.

Mines said in an interview yesterday that he was lawfully carrying a badge and gun when he was arrested Saturday working security at a Knights of Columbus hall where he is a member. Mines said he was appointed Fairmount Heights police commissioner several years ago and carries the badge to prove it. The handgun is registered in his name, he said.

"I'm the police commissioner," he said. "I was sworn to oversee the police department, and I still hold that position." The 1996 case, he added, was a mix-up.

Prince George's police and Fairmount Heights Police Chief Wendell Brantley disagree, however, that Mines can call himself the police commissioner.

"There is only one appointed head of the police department, and that is myself," Brantley said yesterday.

Maj. Andy Ellis, chief spokesman for Prince George's police, said the department is seeking information from anyone who might have interacted with Mines acting as a police officer.

"Anybody who thinks they may have been a victim of Mr. Mines, we're asking to call our violent crimes unit," Ellis said. "We think this is very serious."

Mines was arrested early Saturday after he encountered police officers outside a go-go dance at the Knights of Columbus hall in the 1500 block of Southern Avenue in Temple Hills.

Ellis said officers became suspicious when Mines identified himself as a member of the police department, because county officers did not recognize him. They then noticed that he had red and blue police lights mounted inside a black Cadillac Escalade that he was driving. County police called Brantley, who told them Mines is not a police officer but a council member, Ellis said.

In the Escalade, county police found four law enforcement badges, including a federal "inaugural" badge, a Fairmount Heights police badge, two bulletproof vests, a police radio and a siren, according to the police report. The Escalade had a Fraternal Order of Police license plate. However, when officers tried to check the registration, it did not appear to be registered to anyone, sources said. Mines was released Saturday on his own recognizance; his police paraphernalia was seized, but the Escalade was not impounded.

In July 1996, Mines was charged with burglary and impersonating a police officer after authorities said he pushed himself into a hotel room, showed a stolen D.C. police badge to a prostitute and her client, and then burglarized the room. Prosecutors dismissed the case in 1998 for lack of evidence.

Mines said the burglar had impersonated him, stealing his reserve D.C. police badge to commit the burglary.

Staff writer Keith L. Alexander and staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

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