Alcides Souza, who is a Brazilian citizen living in Orem, Utah, attending university in this state on a student visa, was pulled over for allegedly running a stop sign, and detained by a citizen pretending to be a police officer. The fake cop, Mark Vreeland, asked Souza, who Vreeland described as "of ethnicity," if he was in the country legally. At the time Vreeland was wearing a hat that said ICE and Police, even though he belongs to neither organization.
Real cops showed up and when they sorted it out they let the student go, but issued a Class B misdemeanor citation to Vreeland for impersonating an officer.
Vreeland is an anti-immigrant type who doesn't want any illegal aliens in his town, and has apparently set himself up to harass people "of ethnicity," without proof of them being here illegally. In Vreeland’s words, "I'm not your usual guy. I'm outside the box. I'm a little grain of sand on a big beach, and I try to make a difference in our community."
No, he's not your usual guy. He's a poser and a jerk who passes himself off as law enforcement so he can throw his weight around. Looking at a picture of Vreeland, who is 58 and bald, he looks like he could be on the outer end of a career in policing, but he actually owned a pizza joint. He must like the idea of pushing people around, because he goes out with a firearm (not unusual for Utah), Mace, a stun gun and handcuffs. I've known at least one other person who pretended to be a police officer, with a red light in his car, pulling people over and scaring them with threats of arrest. In my opinion a person doing that is psychotic.
In an incident related only by the immigrant factor, in 2010 a list of 1,300 purported illegal aliens was released anonymously by two women working for the Utah Department of Workforce Services to the news media, demanding that the people on the list be deported. It caused a real uproar. After an investigation by the state it was determined that over 1,100 of the names were genuine, but the rest weren't, so at least some of the people on the list were illegal (but far from the 1,300 the women identified). The plot backfired against the women who thought they were doing the right thing. Their identities were discovered, they were fired, and then charged with a crime of misusing the state database. In May both pleaded guilty and were assessed fines. At least one of the women had her fine paid by a third party, who believed she had done the right thing.
Those two set themselves up as cops, too, by compiling the names of those who they suspected—without proof--were breaking the law. Maybe the women had good intentions, but by making their own rules they violated some pretty strict laws on privacy. The women would have been smarter to speak those suspicions to someone in authority, and let them do the work of investigating. By releasing the names of people not proven to be illegal the women committed an offense.
There is a serious debate on the problem of illegal immigration in this country right now, but these people picked the wrong way to go about a solution. It goes back to that “of ethnicity” line by pretend cop Vreeland. Would people be suspected of being in the country illegally if they were Norwegian, German, British? And by that I mean white people? Probably not. People can say what they want about enforcing laws on immigration, but much of what they say is a smokescreen to cover old-fashioned racism. Racism in and of itself isn’t illegal, just wrongheaded; impersonating an officer of the law or releasing confidential state information is definitely illegal.