They are NOT police.
That’s the message today from officers in California, who are investigating at least two cases of people posing as Chinese police.
They’re driving cars marked as the Communist Party of China’s People’s Armed Police (PAP).
One arrest has already been made, according to California Highway Patrol spokesman Florentino Olivera.
He said that on September 10, an Asian man was arrested after reports he was impersonating a PAP officer. He was caught driving a black Audi A4 with PAP markings and a Chinese national symbol.
Police posted photos of the car on the CHP Facebook page. They also alerted people that police responded to several complaints regarding a male Asian driver impersonating a PAP officer.
“The driver was arrested and charged with impersonating a peace officer and for forging/possessing a fraudulent public seal,” the notice said.
Now they’re looking for a second white vehicle. They say it also has PAP markings and has been spotted in the same area of Irvine, Calif.
Irvine has a population that’s 42 percent Asian American, and many residents are Chinese American.
The way they are charging the suspect is interesting – they’re going after him as if he had impersonated a U.S. police officer.
Investigators have withheld his name because Olivera says they’re going after a bigger fish.
“We think there is a bigger case here,” Olivera said in an interview.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Although we don’t have details of the motive of the person arrested, investigators say they’re looking into whether the impersonators are linked to the Chinese government. And it’s not the first such arrest.
This one comes after reports of other Chinese police impersonators in Australia, northern California, and Washington state.
Intelligence experts are now weighing in on the link to China. They believe the fake police are related to covert Chinese government efforts to intimidate overseas Chinese people regarded by Beijing as dissidents or opponents of the Communist Party.
“The circumstances of this case suggest this may be a violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act,” said Nicholas Eftimiades.
Eftimiades is a former Defense Intelligence Agency counterintelligence.
“There are many examples of China’s Communist Party employing the government or party apparatus to intimidate and coerce ethnic Chinese abroad, whether or not they are Chinese citizens.”
It wouldn’t be the first time that China’s security and intelligence services conducted covert intelligence operations in the United States.
A past operation was code-named Foxhunt by the FBI. That particular case targeted dissidents and regime opponents.
In April, the National Defense University publicly released a report. It argued the PAP may be used by China’s government to protect Chinese civilians and assets abroad.
For those unfamiliar with the PAP, it’s China’s political police and security force.
The Chinese Communist Party doesn’t just use it for nationwide police functions… they also use it for political control.
The National Defense University calls the PAP China’s “other army”. And it’s well funded, containing large numbers of troops and military forces, including tanks and armored vehicles.
Years ago, it was under dual civilian and military control. Not long ago, that shifted. It was placed directly under the command of the Chinese military as part of a power consolidation bid by Chinese president Xi Jinping.
According to police, the PAP is known to use black Audis. In this most recent case, the markings on the black car in Irvine read “Special Police”. They emblems are strikingly similar to SWAT special units that employ even more brutal methods than regular PAP officers in China. To highlight the visual difference, tegular PAP officers usually drive white cars.
Recent images have been released that show PAP officers in wearing uniforms with the same Chinese characters for Special Police. In those pictures, they were herding blindfolded and shackled minority Uighurs into trains.
Experts say for Chinese-Americans, police cars marked as Special Police would be similar to cars adorned with Nazi SS insignia.
Local media reports that there was another incident involving Chinese police impersonation took place in northern California earlier last summer.
Police say in that case, an Asian driver of a car with Chinese markings picked the wrong car to try and pull over. The driver of that second car was r an off-duty police officer.
In August, reports came in from Australia that were similar. In those, there were two cases of Chinese police car impersonators in the cities of Perth and Adelaide.
The Adelaide case had a white BMW with PAP markings.
The timing is also interesting. It seems to have coincided with Chinese government efforts to stem international support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. They came in the same month there was a clash in Adelaide between pro-China protesters and supporters of the Hong Kong protesters.
Tammy Franks is an Australian member of parliament. Franks said their laws needed to be tightened to outlaw impersonating foreign police.
“It appears that our laws anticipate perhaps somebody impersonating an Australian police car but certainly not a Chinese cop car on the streets of Adelaide,” she told local media outlets.
Franks believes the car was mean to “intimidating and threatening, particularly ex-pats from China or people from Hong Kong and Taiwan.”
But the FBI believes there may be more of a criminal intent behind the unusual Chinese police activities.
In December, they issued a public notice over it in Washington state. They said people posing as Chinese police were attempting to fleece Chinese students and residents.
According to the notice, email and text message scams were targeting both Chinese nationals on student visas at universities and Chinese in the United States on work visas.
In total, five people lost more than $100,000 to the scams. The people who fell prey to them were told they were under investigation by Chinese authorities for money laundering or other crimes. They were directed to send money to Chinese “investigators”.
According to the victims, they were given instructions that they could either resolve the crimes by returning to China and going to prison… or moving money to accounts that would be used to analyze proof of their innocence.
A Seattle FBI spokeswoman shared more information on the scams. She said in this case, they were limited to online contacts and did not involve the use of fraudulent Chinese police cars.
In February, we reported on a group that seems to be trying to look like NYPD… that’s DEFINITELY NOT NYPD.
Officially launching in January 2019, Brooklyn had a new “civic-minded” group on the streets. The Muslim Community Patrol has rolled out 30 regular and 30 additional volunteer members dressed in navy blue uniforms and driving white Ford Taurus with markings eerily similar to the vehicles driven by patrol officers with the NYPD.
This patrol says that they know that they are not police officers. They simply patrol to be an extended “eyes and ears” for the NYPD. They work in shifts patrolling Muslims schools, as well as subway stops and mosques in Bay Ridge and Sunset Park.
Did you know that Law Enforcement Today has a private new home for those who support emergency responders and veterans? It’s called LET Unity, and it’s where we share the untold stories of those patriotic Americans. Every penny gets reinvested into giving these heroes a voice. Check it out today.
Besides acting as “eyes and ears” for police, MCPS Vice President Noor Rabah added, MCPS members are already connected to their communities enough to defuse situations while avoiding potential cultural misunderstandings.
“We’re not here to arrest people,” he said. “Rather, if we see for example a young man smoking weed and we know him, we can come up to him, greet him and say, ‘You might not care if a cop came to you right now and stopped you but you probably would care if your mom or dad found out that you were smoking weed.’”
Rabah was quick to address any thoughts of this patrol enforcing Sharia Law.
“It’s not about Sharia Law. It’s about Muslims taking care of people in our community. But it’s not just Muslims. If we’re driving or we’re patrolling, and we see a guy attacking a woman we don’t ask, ‘what’s your religion? What do you believe in? Who’s your God?’ We’re there for preventative measures and it doesn’t matter who’s going through what — white, black, orange, green, nun, hijabi, we’re there to help our community.”
It almost sounds like what they are trying to provide is a community policing effort. Most reasonably minded people are certainly in favor of this. If that is what this is, no problem.
However, Merriam defines community policing as: a law enforcement program in which police officers often working on foot, bicycle, or horseback are assigned to specific neighborhoods or communities to work with residents in preventing crime.
The issue here? The NYPD is not running this program.
Rabah did assert that his group’s vehicles were approved by the 72ndPrecinct before they did their December test run. He further stated that 30 members of the MCPS have received certification through New York City’s Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) program.
Rabah said that they have already won the support of officials in the 72nd and planned to work with them to receive further training.
Department spokesperson Sgt. Jessica McRorie seemingly offers a negative reaction towards the MCPS and their vehicles.
In an interview with the website PJ Media, McRorie said:
“This is not a NYPD vehicle. The NYPD did not outfit or label this vehicle. This group is not officially sanctioned by the NYPD and they are subject to the law.”
On Twitter, NYPD Officer John Cardillo stated:
“Not at all comfortable with this. ‘Muslim Community Patrol’ in NYC, driving cars that look identical to NYPD RMPs. This looks a lot like Sharia Police. In Brooklyn.”
Rabah, in his assertion of 72nd Precinct approval said:
“We’re not looking for someone to ‘outfit’ our car. We’re looking for equal respect.”
And within that one statement lies the issues: the MCPS wants to walk through their neighborhoods with the same level of respect afforded to law enforcement. They want to have the noticeable presence of law enforcement. They want to be seen as police without having any of the authority of police. They want to be seen as authority figures without having the law behind them.
A hypothesis: It is possible that the MCPS wants to have the same respect as the commissioned law enforcement because they view themselves as such. Perhaps they view themselves as enforcers of a different law.
What do you think?
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.