PHOENIX — The Department of Public Safety arrested Thursday a Mesa man who the department says initiated a traffic stop while pretending to be a Mesa Police officer.
Joshua David Hillman, 28, is accused of impersonating an officer. DPS Sgt. Brandon Powell saw a traffic stop on westbound US 60 in Mesa Thursday and pulled over to assist a fellow officer. That's when Powell encountered Hillman and soon realized Hillman was not an officer at all.
"Right away there was something that seemed off about the gentleman that was out there," Sgt. Powell said of Hillman. "The first thing that struck me was that he had a beard, and you usually don’t see that."
Powell continued, "The next thing I noticed was that he didn’t have a badge or a gun on his hip."
According to Powell, Hillman had flashing red and blue lights installed in the front and back of his white SUV. He also wore an embroidered blue collared shirt that said "Mesa Police" over a badge.
Hillman had pulled over two women, at first telling them there were issues with their tail lights, and later telling Powell a different story.
"He said that they had cut him off with an unsafe lane change so he had pulled them over to tell them to slow down and to be careful," Powell said. "As regards what his motivation was, we don’t know. We’re still looking into that."
An actual member of the Mesa Police Department arrived to assist Powell, and he recognized Hillman.
Powell recalled: "The Mesa sergeant’s like, ‘Man, I recognize this guy from somewhere.' He said, 'Let me go run him through our system.' He comes back a couple minutes later and says ‘we arrested him ten years ago for impersonating an officer and I was the sergeant on that case."
Police records show Hillman was arrested for impersonating a police officer and for possessing a concealed weapon without a permit in September of 2009.
12 News has learned that Hillman's father is a civilian member of the Mesa PD. He works in the forensics unit and has spent time as a sworn reserve officer in the past, according to Mesa police and the City of Mesa.
According to Facebook, Hillman is an assistant manager at a sandwich shop in Gilbert. A woman who works with him told 12 News that Hillman talked a lot about wanting to be a police officer and that "he has the best of intentions."