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Gates man denies impersonating a police officer
Gates, N.Y. - Joseph LaRocca, 63, said it was all a misunderstanding.
According to LaRocca, he never pretended to be a police officer. But Gates Police said when an officer responded to LaRoccas home in Gates Friday night for a family dispute, LaRocca pulled out his wallet and flashed a fake police badge.
LaRocca said he does have a police patch in his wallet, but he said it doesnt look real and he denied using it to impersonate a police officer.
He said he told the officer it was for security reasons because he makes deliveries and says having the police badge is a deterrent.
But in a police report, the Gates Police Officer said that LaRocca showed him the badge and said: Im an undercover police officerIm a cop just like you.
When he was questioned by the officer about this, LaRocca denied showing the officer the badge or identifying himself as a police officer.
Gates Police also interviewed LaRoccas wife, Marguerite, who told them: LaRocca had identified himself as a police officer on more than one occasion.
When we went to LaRoccas home before interviewing him, we also noticed a Police Chiefs Association sticker on his back door. He said that is also for protection and to deter anyone who comes to his door looking for trouble.
Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode said its a felony to impersonate a police officer and he said incidents like this send a message to the community.
According to VanBrederode, with technology now, anything can be made to look real, and it's important to be careful to check when someone is showing credentials, that they are real.
LaRocca was issued an appearance ticket. He will answer to the charges in Gates Town Court on April 29.