OAK HARBOR, Wash. -- A 69-year-old Oak Harbor man is accused of having posed as a police officer for 25 years.
And if he did, many people are wondering, what did he do with the powers he simply assumed?
Oak Harbor police say that for at least two and a half decades, Jim Bailey, 69, pretended to be a police officer.
"To be able to do that for 25 years and get away with it is kind of surprising, but, yeah, it's completely wrong," said Oak Harbor resident Mark Belcher.
Police said Bailey's life as a cop imposter came to an end Aug. 6. He saw a man and a woman fighting on the street in Oak Harbor and intervened.
"He had held down the male or pulled him aside and directed the other individual to call the police and say that an officer needs assistance," Police Chief Ed Green said Thursday.
That call -- officer needs assistance -- is a serious matter and officers responded quickly. When they arrived, there was no officer -- only the couple and Jim Bailey.
After a month-long investigation, Bailey was arrested and police found he had been posing as an officer, or a retired officer. They say he even placed ads in newspapers offering his professional services all over the state and everyone believed he was actually an officer.
"He was listed as an officer doing certain trainings and things, so there became some concern that he was acting as an officer, maybe obtaining information that he shouldn't be obtaining, maybe obtaining information that we need," Green said.
"Twenty-five years, I mean, that's a really long time and for no one to even realize for that long a time is actually kind of terrifying in a way. Cause who else is out there doing it?"asked resident Jennifer McIntosh.
Bailey was actually an Oak Harbor reserve officer for three years in the late 1980s. He resigned to go to the police academy, but never graduated.
"We take this profession very seriously," Green said. "We work significantly hard to get into this profession, a lot of pride and a lot of integrity in what we do and I don't need someone coming along and portraying to be somebody they aren't."
Resident Ed Rose said, "Shouldn't be allowed to be on the street. Should be in jail."
Now police want to know if any citizens had "official interaction" with Bailey or if any agency may have been conned into paying for his services. If so, Oak Harbor police want to hear from you.
Impersonating an officer can be a misdemeanor or a felony. The decision is up to the Island County prosecutor.