Officer in hoodie startles Petersburg drivers

Posted at 7:03 PM, Apr 12, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-12 19:17:42-04

PETERSBURG, Va (WTVR)--Several drivers were frightened by a police officer this morning, who had on a hoodie and was pointing a radar gun at drivers.

“Police officer” is not the first thought that went through drivers' heads when they spotted a man, standing in the woods line along a busy street and pointing something at their car.

One driver was so concerned that he pulled over and asked the man what he was doing.

Turns out, he was a police officer, dressed in street clothes, including the dark green hoodie using a special device called Lidar, to check the speed of drivers on Washington Street.

His appearance though, not that he was running radar, is what upset some people.

“That’s dangerous," said Carlos Brown who works nearby “and it sends the wrong signal anyway, even if you do know it’s a police officer, he still shouldn’t be standing out there with a hoodie, with a radar gun.”

While the officer ran Lidar, four other police officers in marked cars, pulled over alleged speeders.

“When I looked up and saw him,” said Rodney Jones. “I said, ‘who in the world is that, in the woods?’”

“I was thinking somebody was pointing a gun or something," he added.

For Nick Hayes, the experience caused him to pull over and park, get out of his truck and walk over to see what the man was doing.

“One man just got killed because of wearing a hoodie,” said Hayes. “Here we have a police officer doing the same thing.”

“I think it’s ridiculous in the City of Petersburg,” he added.

That section of Washington Street being patrolled is well-known for speeders and well-known for Petersburg Police officers running radar.

In the three hours the officer used Lidar, more than 30 cars were stopped for speeding.

As for his appearance, Petersburg Police spokeswoman Esther Hyatt pointed out that it was cold, and his badge was displayed.

"The officer was wearing his own attire and it was slightly above freezing this morning," she said. “It was quite cold and so he wore a garment for warmth, since he was running the Lidar."

“His badge was prominently displayed and he is well-trained in the use of Lidar," she said.