Columbia police sought to raise awareness Friday afternoon about how actual police look and act, prompted by two recent incidents in which intruders identified themselves as law enforcement and then forced their way into people’s homes.

But in a joint news conference with the Boone County Sheriff’s Department and MU Police, Columbia’s interim chief, Geoff Jones, said he did not know if the two incidents were related.

Both incidents happened in northeast Columbia. The first occurred March 21 in the 1500 block of Spiros Drive near Ballenger Lane. The second happened at 5:15 a.m. on Holly Avenue. An undisclosed amount of cash was taken in that break-in, CPD spokesman Jeff Pitts said.

In each incident, at least one intruder identified himself as a member of law enforcement before forcing the entry. No one was injured in either incident.

Jones said that in light of the recent impersonations, he was worried that Boone County residents might shoot actual law enforcement officers. Actual police will make people aware by showing identification and wearing uniforms, he said.

That prompted something of a fashion show that included officers from three agencies wearing all varieties of uniforms — including those for SWAT, the traffic unit and a plainclothes detective wearing a badge and a vest. Jones described in which situations citizens might see an officer wearing one of the many uniforms.

The police department also provided the media with surveillance photos from inside the Spiros Drive residence. In one of the photos, three intruders wearing hoodies can be seen brandishing weapons.

“They look nothing like us,” Jones said.

Jones encouraged people who live in the neighborhoods where the two incidents took place — Spiros Drive, Lilly Lane and Holly Avenue — to look at any surveillance footage that might be helpful to the two investigations.

Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.

  • Investigative and courthouse reporter. I am a senior pre-law student studying data journalism at The University of Missouri's School of Journalism. Reach me at huntergilbert@mail.missouri.edu or @ByHunterGilbert on Twitter

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