Southport volunteer firefighter suspended after arrest for impersonating cop
Updated 10:24 am, Thursday, May 30, 2013
A Southport Volunteer Fire Department firefighter was charged last Friday with impersonating a police officer and pulling over a motorist for passing a school bus with red flashing lights.
Ralph Arnone, 52, of Hillside Avenue in Bridgeport, in addition to being accused of pretending to be a police officer, was charged with breach of peace and reckless driving. He was released on a promise to appear Friday in Bridgeport Superior Court.
In a statement issued Wednesday night, the Southport Volunteer Fire Department said that Arnone has been suspended while the incident is investigated. The statement also said the police report that identified Arnone as an assistant chief of the department is not correct, although acknowledging that he had been an assistant chief until 2007.
Police said Arnone called 911 about 3:11 p.m. last Friday to report that he was following a motorist on Kings Highway East who had passed a school bus that had its red lights flashing. Arnone followed the motorist, flashed a badge at her and motioned for her to pull over, police said. The badge, according to the Southport volunteers, is not one he was authorized to use by the department.
While he was following her, Arnone veered into her lane, and the motorist pulled over in a parking lot on Commerce Drive, police said. According to the motorist's account to police, Arnone then got out of his car, displayed a badge and said he was a police officer and that the motorist is not allowed to pass a school bus when its lights are flashing, police said. The motorist, however, noticed that the badge had the words "Fire Department" on it, police said.
Police Chief Gary MacNamara said police determined that the motorist lawfully passed the school bus because it was on the opposite side of a four-lane divided highway. "There was no violation [issued to the motorist] for the school bus because it was not a violation," he said.