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Police charge man with impersonating officer

NORCROSS - Police say a Lawrenceville man abused the fringe benefits of being a sworn officer long after his days on a Tennessee police force.

Police arrested Reginald Lamar Finley, 40, after he flashed an expired Chattanooga Police Department badge and ID card Wednesday in an attempt to wiggle out of traffic violations, police said.

The incident marked the third such arrest made in Gwinnett County in a week.

After Finley bonded out of jail, investigators discovered he also lied to management at Wesley Herrington Apartments, where he lives, purporting himself as an officer to receive a discount on rent, police said.

Finley was initially arrested for impersonating a police officer. Police have tacked on a second impersonation charge and added a charge of theft by deception for the alleged rent scam.

But the latter charges will have to wait. Police haven't been able to locate Finley after he posted $11,620 bond Wednesday, said Gwinnett police spokeswoman Cpl. Illana Spellman.

An officer stopped Finley about 1 a.m. Wednesday in Norcross because a tag on his 1999 Ford Expedition had expired. Finley allegedly showed the officer a badge and ID card issued by Chattanooga police, and also an expired military ID. He told the officer he also worked for a task force in Georgia, police said.

"(He) told the officer he had just returned from military duty in Iraq and didn't have a chance to renew his tag or registration," said Spellman. "I don't know if he was telling the truth or not."

Records show Finley was employed with Chattanooga police from 1993 to October 1999. He was discharged that month due to "negligence in performing duties," according to his personnel file. He was instructed to turn in all department materials, including his badge, upon his termination, said a Chattanooga police representative Friday.

Inside Finley's vehicle, police seized a handgun, nylon belt, a holster, handcuffs and a black T-shirt brandishing the word "Police," Spellman said.

Investigators are searching for other people who Finley may have duped into believing him, she said.

Police said Finley's arrest isn't the only recent example of officer impersonation.

Last Friday, Duluth police arrested a man for purporting himself as a DeKalb County officer, a police chaplain and a military policeman in a failed attempt to duck a speeding ticket, police said.

On Wednesday, police arrested a Lilburn man who allegedly posed as a cop to clear himself of drunk driving charges. The 36-year-old hit another vehicle as he headed home from a liquor store, causing minor damage, police said. He then flashed a holstered gun on his hip, an ID card and offered the female driver $2,000 not to call police, authorities said.

Police urge anyone who has had contact with Finley posing as an officer to contact detectives at 770-513-5396.