A reject from the New Mexico State Police found himself taking another ride in a patrol vehicle… only this time, he was in the backseat with a pair of silver bracelets. Former New Mexico cop, Justin Romero, attempted to use his imagined allegiance to the boys in blue to get out of a routine traffic stop. Interestingly enough, this is not Romero’s first run-in on the other side of the law.
According to the NYPD, police officers stopped Romero outside of the Queens Midtown Tunnel. The 29-year-old former cop was behind the wheel of his pickup truck when he was pulled over for not displaying a front license plate, a state law. Romero with all the false bravado and confidence displayed by jokers with a badge told his assumed “brothers”, “I’m a police officer” and flashed his New Mexico State Police badge. Romero was unable to fool officers however. When flashing the badge, officers noticed the badge was a commemorative shield which “Staties” could purchase.
New Mexico State Chief of Police Pete Kassetas said, “I authorized our officers to wear it on their uniform for one year to celebrate our 80th anniversary. They were able to keep those badges as a keepsake.”
As it turns out, Romero was employed by the police department but was fired less than a year into his employment. In 2016, Romero was observed pulling into a gas station in Santa Fe in his patrol vehicle. At the time Romero was off duty. In the video, Romero is seen filling up his patrol vehicle. What happened next cost Romero his job.
“There was an individual in a pickup truck, which belonged to the officer, who pulled it up to the same pump and then he gassed up that pickup truck,” Chief Kassetas said. “That doesn’t work for me.”
A witness tipped off police to the incident. That tip led to an investigation by the department into Romero.
“He knows the difference between right and wrong. This was unacceptable,” said the chief. “The core of what we do is our integrity and we don’t break the law. People say, ‘Well, just for a tank of gas?’ Well yeah, actually the threshold is zero. Zero theft. You’re stealing from taxpayers.”
In the New York incident, authorities found a firearm next to the driver’s side door. When asked about a firearm in the vehicle Romero responded that he had a gun but it was “locked, in a box in the back” of the truck.
Romero was also unable to provide proper identification when prompted.
The New Mexico State Police chief told reporters he got a call from colleagues in New York shortly after Romero’s arrest to validate his story. He made it clear that Romer was not an officer with the department any longer.
“I appreciate the New York Police Department reaching out to us,” the chief said. “Romero was impersonating a police officer. He doesn’t have a badge for a reason and I can assure you he wouldn’t be working in New Mexico again.”
He is being charged with impersonating a cop and other lesser charges. His court hearing has been scheduled for April.
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