Local News

Woman In Trouble With Law After Questioning Officer's Identity

Posted July 28, 2005 10:29 a.m. EDT

— What are you supposed to do when a police officer knocks on your door at night? Officials with the Raleigh Police Department say in a particular case, the answer was obvious, but an elderly woman who had her doubts got charged with a crime.

Marie Venezia, 73, lives by herself in her Raleigh home. Last Tuesday night, a Raleigh police officer knocked on her door and asked her about damage to a neighbor's fence.

"I said 'I don't know what you want me to say. I don't know who it was.' He said, 'You know who it was.' I said, "I don't know who it was." He said you do," she said. "And at that point, I began to wonder if this guy really was a policeman because I didn't think officers acted like that."

Venezia told the officer she was going to call 911 to confirm who he was.

"He said, 'Don't close that door.' I said I am going to close it and then I went and called 911," she said.

When Venezia came back, the officer charged her with misdemeanor obstructing and delaying, issuing her a ticket.

"The exchange that occurred between the officer and the resident was unproductive to the point that the officer felt the charge was necessary," said Jim Sughrue, a representative with the Raleigh Police Department.

There have been a number of prior cases in Wilson and Raleigh about people posing as law enforcement officers. Plus, a

WRAL investigation

found a Web site selling badges. However, the Raleigh Police Department said those are unfair comparisons because in this case, the officer was in full uniform and his patrol car was in plain sight.

Raleigh police officials say when an officer is in full uniform and the car is visible, just cooperate. WRAL checked with other agencies and most say it depends on the situation. The Chapel Hill Police Department actually encourages double checking.