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PA deputy fire chief charged with impersonating a police officer

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(Thanks to Bill Rehkopf for alerting STATter911.com to this story.)

WPXI-TV:

The incident happened on Sept. 13 when a motorcyclist was reported to be driving erratically on William Penn Highway, according to a criminal complaint. The driver later called police to notify them that he had been pulled over by a man who he wasn’t sure was an officer.

A license plate number was provided to police and the man who conducted the traffic stop was identified as George Gerstacker, 46, the complaint said.

Gerstacker, a deputy fire chief at Monroeville Station 5, placed a call to authorities himself to inform them that “he pulled the motorcycle over and obtained his information. He was requesting to know who was on duty and stated that he wanted to have this individual cited,” according to the complaint.

WTAE-TV:

Police said Alessandro Polito submitted a typed, signed statement in which he said he was driving a motorcycle when Gerstacker pulled alongside on the shoulder and waved his arms for Polito to pull over.

Polito said that he was approached by Gerstacker, who he described as “very aggressive and pushy,” and said that Gerstacker was claiming multiple traffic violations and asking about the man’s documentation, according to the complaint.

Polito said in his statement that he produced a Class M permit and a driver’s license for Gerstacker, who wrote down his information and asked about his updated address, his reason for being in Monroeville, his place of employment and phone number, the complaint said.

Gerstacker then informed Polito that he would receive a citation in the mail, according to the complaint.

“Gerstacker was the initial caller on this incident. He notified dispatch via his issued fire radio of the erratic driver and its location. He did not inform anyone that he had stopped the vehicle or call out his location to dispatch,” Officer Keith Pascarella wrote in the complaint. “I was actively looking for this motorcycle and, given the times logged by dispatch, could have properly intervened had the location of the stop by Gerstacker been called in.”

Jonathan D. Silver, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Monroeville police Officer Keith Pascarella responded but could not spot the motorcycle. A short time later, the dispatch center asked the officer to come to the station. Mr. Polito had called to report that he was pulled over by someone he thought was a police officer “but wasn’t sure and wanted us to know,” the complaint said.

Officer Pascarella checked the license plate of the vehicle that stopped Mr. Polito and found it was registered to Mr. Gerstacker, the complaint said. He is identified as a former Monroeville police and fire dispatcher, a volunteer firefighter and the assistant chief of Station 5 in the community. Mr. Polito said he wanted to pursue charges.

On a recorded 911 line, Mr. Gerstacker said “that he pulled the motorcycle over and obtained his information. He was requesting to know who was on duty and stated that he wanted to have this individual cited,” the complaint said. 

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