SPRINGDALE, SC (WIS) - The Springdale Police Department released a sketch of a sexual assault suspect who impersonated a police officer and then sexually assaulted a woman.
Springdale Police Chief Kevin Cornett said it happened Tuesday around 8:30 p.m. when a man using a small blue light on his dashboard stopped a woman in the 1000 block of Wattling Road.
Chief Cornett said the suspect then approached the vehicle and informed the victim that her tag lamp was out.
The suspect used the traffic stop as a ruse to get the victim out of the vehicle and that is when he began to hit her repeatedly in the head, Cornett said. The suspect then dragged the victim into the edge of the wood line where, according to the release, he sexually assaulted her and then drove off toward Augusta Road.
The suspect is described as a white man in his early twenties to mid-thirties, with light brown or red hair, light colored eyes and no facial hair. The suspect was wearing a black T-shirt with the word "POLICE" written on the front, a black windbreaker-style jacket, khaki pants, black police style boots and a box style holster similar to a radio holster or possible a large cell phone holster.
The suspect's vehicle is described as a small newer model 4-door compact car.
The victim was taken to hospital and treated for cuts and bruises.
"I'm going to be afraid and be on the watch out now," said Springdale resident Jennifer Hutto. "With society today, that tells you who can you trust. It's very wrong for someone to sit there and impersonate an officer. I feel bad for the lady that it happened to, and for the family."
Cornett said there are steps you can take if you don't believe an actual police officer is pulling you over.
"I would caution you when you're driving and you're pulled over by a police officer, it's always best, especially at night, to try to pull over somewhere where there's a well-lit area where other people are," said Cornett. "If you cannot get to that place and you're trying to get there, you can always call dispatch and let them know, 'Hey, there's a police officer behind me. Can you advise me if this is truly a police officer?' And they'll tell us when you call so that we know you're not just running from the police."
According to Cornett, state law says officers always have to present a badge when conducting a traffic stop. "Normally it's going to be a metal one or it's going to be sewn onto their uniform," said Cornett. Most agencies also have patches on their uniforms identifying the department.
"It's scary. It's scary for us," said Cornett. "The public needs to feel safe when they're pulled over by a law enforcement officer. "
Police are hoping somebody driving in the area may have seen two vehicles parked on the side of Wattling Road Tuesday night. Cornett said the smallest detail may help the investigation.
You are urged to call Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC with any information.
SLED and the Springdale Police Department are continuing to investigate.