PULASKI TOWNSHIP (KDKA/AP) — A male police officer spent much of December and January dressed as an Amish woman in hopes of scaring off a man suspected of exposing himself to Amish children in Lawrence County.
Pulaski Township Sgt. Chad Adams said Tuesday that police weren't able to charge the man because of a lack of evidence, but they believe he's the same person sentenced to house arrest in January for similar incidents in neighboring Mercer County. That's because the incidents in Pulaski also stopped around the same time.
Still, Adams felt it was important to publicize his undercover gig on the Police Department's Facebook page, if only to deter the suspect or others in the future.
"Sometimes being a police officer means going undercover and doing what you have to do to catch the bad guy," Adams wrote in a caption for a photo showing him in a blue dress, black cloak and bonnet.
Along isolated Heather Ridge Road, Amish kids don't have cell phones to call for help, nor are there any means of modern communication in their homes.
Surveillance showed the suspect's vehicle constantly in the area.
"Once that occurred, we had other means for the Amish children to get home from school instead of walking," Sgt. Adams said.
"I didn't care what someone thought of me. All I wanted to do was catch the guy," Sgt. Adams added. "I was afraid that if it continued that the individual was going to maybe abduct one of the children."
Adams was assisted by a female officer from nearby Wampum, who also dressed in Amish garb.
The Amish didn't want their children to testify in court and agreed to lend police the women's bonnets, aprons and dresses to catch or scare away the suspect.
Adams said the Amish were "not at all" concerned about his cross-dressing methods, despite their conservative beliefs.
"I wondered that myself, but I asked and they were all for it," the sergeant said. "They didn't want this man around here, they didn't want this to continue."
"They agreed, and the next day we had the outfits," he added.
Even wearing a dress, he was ready for action.
"I had my gun belt on. I had my apron over the gun belt, you couldn't tell," he said.
Adams said the suspect, whose car was seen in the area but who was never caught in the act of exposing himself in his township, is due to be released from house arrest soon.
"I figured if I put this out there, maybe it would deter him or others from even considering doing this in the future," Adams said.
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