MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A 51-year-old Myrtle Beach man is accused of pulling over a driver using a blue light and siren and impersonating a State Law Enforcement Division agent during the traffic stop, according to a news release from SLED.
Joseph Michael DePace was charged with impersonating a law enforcement officer, the release states.
A citizen complained back in March that someone in a black vehicle with darkened windows and a blue light conducted a traffic stop and identified themselves as a SLED agent, the release states. DePace allegedly showed the driver a badge, and said he would arrest the driver for reckless driving, according to the arrest warrant.
The reported incident happened on Lilly Naz Lane in the Island Green East community. According to arrest warrants, DePace lived just streets away off Builth Court in the same community.
Neighbors say there were at least three incidents involving DePace pretending to be an agent with SLED and other witnesses reported similar behavior.
People who live in the area sent out emails asking others to come forward. They're looking for anyone who experienced similar incidents involving DePace claiming to work with SLED.
WMBF did reach out to Depace for comment through jail administrators, but he declined an interview.
DePace's charge is a misdemeanor which has a penalty of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $500, but Solicitor Jimmy Richardson says that's not enough.
"We put a lot of trust in our police officers and for whatever reason that someone may want to impersonate a police officer...what they're really doing is stealing a bit of that trust away," Richardson said. "I think it's probably more valuable than a year. It's more than a misdemeanor."
DePace was booked into J. Reuben Long Detention Center on Wednesday and given a $1500 bond by a judge.