ROCKY RIVER, OH - An auxiliary police officer for the Rocky River Police Department has been fired, after an investigation revealed that he made unauthorized traffic stops. Investigators say 38-year-old Patrick Lange, who was assigned to assist sworn police officers on patrols over the holiday season, pulled over at least 17 vehicles for violations like speeding and burned out lights. He let the drivers go with a warning, but as an unsworn, unpaid volunteer with no police powers, he had no right to pull over the motorists in the first place. Police Chief Kelly Stillman told Fox 8, "this was extremely upsetting to know that somebody like that was taking upon himself to clearly violate a policy. He knew that he shouldn't be doing it."
Investigators say Lange did not know the dash camera inside the cruiser was operational, and was activated every time he turned on his overhead lights. An officer who used the car after Lange, noticed that the gas tank had not been filled, and when he checked the dash cam to see where the car had been, he found video of all of the traffic stops initiated by Lange. According to Chief Stillman, when Lange was confronted by his superiors, "he said he was trying to help people, basically letting them know that you have a headlight out, license plate light out, you didn't use your turn signal, you're going too fast."
Lange was suspended on December 17th and fired on Wednesday. "You know everybody has a calling in life and some people feel that they want to assist the police department and we gladly accept those people and encourage those, but just to do the right thing, and unfortunately this person overstepped his boundaries and was dealt with accordingly and swiftly,” said Chief Stillman.
The findings of the investigation were turned over to the prosecutor’s office, which declined to file criminal charges against Lange. But the chief says that could change if any new information is uncovered about Lange’s conduct while in uniform. When reached by phone on Thursday, Patrick Lange declined comment.