A former volunteer Dumfries police officer, recently arrested and charged with impersonating a police officer when he allegedly used an invalid special police force badge and identification card to cash a check, is also under investigation for allegedly using his badge and card for enforcement purposes.
Dumfries Police Chief Conrad G. LaBossiere said that town police are investigating whether Epifano "Epi" Lugo, who resigned from the special police force April 1989, used an invalid card and badge for enforcement purposes during a traffic-related incident. The chief would not elaborate on the circumstances.
LaBossiere declined to give any details on the investigation, but said he expects it will be completed within two weeks.
Lugo's arrest follows the Town Council's directive in April to collect all equipment given to special police force officers until a review of Dumfries's compliance with state training requirements for volunteer officers could be completed.
The 10-officer special force was established in 1984 to help town police. The officers were issued equipment, including guns, night sticks, uniforms, badges and indentification cards, and given basically the same arrest powers as regular police, but only when accompanied by a regular officer, LaBossiere said.
However, the force has been effectively suspended since last summer when questions about compliance with new state training requirements first arose, according to Harold Dutton, who has been the volunteer officer in charge of the special force. At the direction of the council, LaBossiere said he sent a letter this spring to the five special officers on the force at that time telling them to return their equipment.
LaBossiere said Dutton is the only person who has not returned his equipment. LaBossiere said he had asked the town investigator to see that the equipment is returned. He said he will not begin a review of the training requirements until all the equipment is returned.
Dutton, who recently moved from Triangle to Fauquier County, said he never received the letter asking the return of equipment. He said he does not have a gun issued by the town police and that he would return his equipment when he received a written request for the items.
Dumfries police issued a warrant for Lugo's arrest for allegedly using both his identification card and badge to cash a check at a Radio Shack store in Dumfries on June 2. The store contacted the police department when Lugo's check bounced, police said. Lugo turned himself into Dumfries police July 7th.
Lugo could not be reached for comment, but, according to LaBossiere, he has denied presenting a badge to the store clerk. Lugo has said that he turned in both the badge and one identification card to Dutton, but kept a second identification card, LaBossiere said.
Dutton said he believed Lugo turned in his badge and identification card, but was not certain.
According to LaBossiere, the store clerk said Lugo presented both an identification card and a badge and identified Lugo's badge as number 746. The special police force identification cards include the officer's badge number, LaBossiere said.
Impersonating an officer is a class one misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 12 months and a fine up to $2,500.
LaBossiere said there was another incident this winter of misuse of a badge and identification card, but by a then-current officer in the volunteer forces. According to LaBossiere, the officer, whom he declined to identify, presented the badge and card "to try to get out of" a traffic violation in Prince William County.
LaBossiere said the town did not press charges against the volunteer because the town had not yet officially requested the return of equipment.