BRADLEY, Maine — A real 1978 cop car, decked out to look like the one used by Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on the TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard,” was stopped last week for having illegally attached lights and sirens.
“It looks just like a police car — granted, an older police car,” Maine State Police Trooper Michael Johnston said Wednesday of the 34-year-old Dodge Monaco. “It’s equipped with full police lights — a working blue-red light bar, [and] it had a police siren.”
It is illegal to have emergency police lights or a mounted police siren on a private vehicle, the trooper said.
“I’ve been driving it for the past year, on and off,” the 49-year-old driver, who asked not to be identified, said Wednesday. “It’s an old car and you have to drive them” to keep them running right.
“A lot of people like it,” he said. “Everybody in town knows it’s not a cop car.”
The Bradley man also has a replica of the General Lee, probably one of the most recognizable TV cars with its bright orange paint and Confederate flag roof, and he displays both at car shows he attends.
“I even had Flash, [Rosco’s lazy basset hound] in the back seat,” the driver said, referring to a stuffed animal.
Johnston noticed the Dodge Monaco — decorated with decals on the door that said “Sheriff” and “County Sheriff” and with a deputy sheriff’s hat in the back window — driving on Route 178 about 3 p.m. July 12.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen a car like this before,” Johnston said.
The local man said he usually drives the car only in parades and to shows, but wanted to take the novelty vehicle, which has a personalized license plate that reads “Rosco,” out for a drive.
“It’s an old police car that he bought and registered as an antique,” Johnston said.
The trooper warned the driver for operating a vehicle improperly equipped with emergency lights and a police siren, and he also explained his worries about police impersonators.
“It’s always a concern for us,” Johnston said. “I think a lot of people would pull over if they saw the lights come on.”
Police in Maine put out an all-points bulletin in February 2009 when a man posing as a state trooper stopped a woman in Gardiner for tossing a cigarette butt out her car window. The impersonator was driving a red pickup truck with a dash-mounted flashing blue light and told the woman he was an off-duty state trooper.
He was never caught.
Another man impersonating a trooper was arrested in Passadumkeag in February 2011 after he entered a residence by saying he was an officer of the law and then began removing items.
Steven Kinsella, 40, was charged with impersonating a public servant, theft by unauthorized taking, and felony burglary. The burglary was upgraded to a felony because he impersonated a trooper to get access to the home.