Police: Suspect pretended to be officer, approached teens in park

COHOES, N.Y. – The Cohoes Police Department is warning residents of a suspicious man who supposedly pretended to be a police officer and approached two girls for sex.

Police said the incident occurred in Lansing Park on Tuesday around 8 p.m. The suspect allegedly approached two teenage girls sitting at a picnic table in the park and made them think they were doing something illegal. Police said he displayed a photo of a badge on his smart phone to the girls.

Police said the suspect then flashed his phone to one of the females and the screen read “What about sex.” The subject was last seen fleeing the area on foot, and the girls were able to flee and call their parents and 911.

For parents who frequently come to Lansing Park with their children, they said the news of the incident was alarming.

“It's scary to think someone like that is out in our community,” said Chris Jansevanrensburgh. “It's a shame there wasn't cameras, but what can you do,”

“As a mom, it is a little scary that it is so close to home,” Hope Odell added. “We come here every night either when the pool is open or to play at the playground and there's always little kids running around here.”

The suspect is described as a white male, 5'8″ tall, 150 lbs, late 50's-60's, salt and pepper hair color, very short; unshaven skin colored mole on the right side of his face between the lip and his nose.  He was wearing a grey tee shirt with dark lettering, a dark grey and blue baseball hat; dark blue pants and sneakers; dark bluish-grey sunken eyes.

The subject displayed a pair of handcuffs that he kept in a blue pouch on his belt and had a large black flashlight. 

Anyone having any information about this incident or any similar incidents should call 911 or the Cohoes Police Tip Line at 518-233-2161. 

The Police Department said anyone approached by someone claiming to be a police officer in plain clothes should request an official ID Card and Badge and verify the identity by calling 911.

Cohoes Police Chief Bill Heslin said while his officers will remain diligent about patrolling the area, residents should not shy away from calling police about anyone who might be suspicious.

“Something like this usually gets repeated,” Heslin said.  “We want the people to be alert.  If they see anything suspicious, call 911.  I'd rather have our officer's respond and check someone out and at least ID that person.”

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