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Clergyman Accused Of Posing As NYPD Officer During Traffic Stop In Connecticut

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) --A volunteer clergyman with the NYPD is accused of falsely identifying himself as an NYPD officer when he was pulled over on a Connecticut highway.

State Police say the Harlem clergyman was arrested on Interstate 95 Wednesday evening after using emergency lights to weave around through backed up traffic.

"Going down the shoulder, splitting traffic, pushing traffic out of his way," Sgt. Robert Derry said. "As the vehicle came up to a place where our troopers were investigating an accident, the troopers managed to pull him over."

Bishop Popeye Whittingham told Connecticut troopers who pulled him over he was headed to Bridgeport. When they asked for identification, CBS2 is told he upped the ante by flashing an NYPD detective's badge, but he isn't a cop, CBS2's Lou Young reported.

"He did have some affiliation with the 32nd Precinct of the New York City Police Department. He was an honorary member, because he helped them out with some sort of situation," Derry said. "He told us he purchased the badge himself. He was never issued that badge by the city of New York."

CBS2 found online photos of Whittingham with Police Commissioner James O'Neill and Chief Joseph Fox, where he is identified as an "NYPD clergy liason."

He was charged with reckless driving, illegal use of emergency lights and impersonating a police officer.

"There's very tight parameters as to who can have flashing lights and when they can use them," Derry said. "Wasn't even close to the parameters."

Out on $2,500 bail, Whittingham is due in Norwalk Court on May 3.

The NYPD had no comment on the arrest, other than to confirm the man is not a member of the force.

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