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Alleged fake cop has arresting past Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Apr 09 2011 12:00 PM

A man suspected of passing himself off as a police officer during traffic stops with motorists was previously arrested by Chula Vista police.

On March 22 Kevin Alan Kenniston, 41, was arrested by Chula Vista police for strong-arm robbery, residential burglary and possession of stolen property with pending charges of domestic violence.

Kenniston was out on bail on those charges when, on Monday, he was arrested and booked on two felony counts of false imprisonment, two misdemeanor counts of impersonating a peace officer and one count of felony child endangerment, police said.

A resident of Chula Vista, Kenniston was arrested by sheriff's deputies when he appeared at the South County Superior Court for an unrelated hearing.

"We knew he had a court appearance and arranged with the Sheriff's Department to take him into custody before the hearing," Chula Vista Police Capt. Gary Ficacci said.

Authorities identified Kenniston as a suspect early on in the investigation but held off on arresting him until the investigation was complete.

"The reason for the delay is we were putting all the information together and presenting that case to the District Attorney's Office to make sure they were in agreement with the charges," Ficacci said.

He was first reported posing as an officer Feb. 23 by a woman who told police Kenniston pulled her over near East Orange and Max avenues.

Kenniston was driving a Ford Crown Victoria painted black and white, similar to a police car and equipped with emergency lights and a siren.

According to police Kenniston confronted the female about running a red light and almost running into him. He drove off after a uniformed police officer pulled into the area.

On March 9 he reportedly used the green, yellow and red emergency lights and public address system on his car to confront another female motorist who was parked near a red or yellow zone.

When the woman ignored him, he allegedly blocked her car and demanded her driver's license, registration and insurance.

She gave him the documents, thinking he was an off-duty police officer. Kenniston detained her for 20 minutes before driving off with the emergency lights still on.

Investigators said Kenniston conducted a third traffic stop prior to dropping off his girlfriend's daughter at school.

The traffic stop occurred on the I-805 freeway utilizing emergency lights and siren while the child was in the vehicle.

"Thankfully this kind of thing is very rare," Ficacci said. "It's certainly not inappropriate to ask (officers) for credentials," he said. "Examine them and compare them to the badge. Shoulder patches will identify the jurisdiction."

Kenniston's Crown Victoria was impounded last month as police investigated the incidents. Authorities said the car was not stolen but was registered to him.

Kenniston's attorney, Marco Carlos, said his client owns a funeral escort service which he uses his car for.

Police said the suspect also had access to a police-style motorcycle but that all reports so far indicated the stops were conducted in the car.

As far as the sirens and other paraphernalia, Ficacci said they where purchased legally. "It's installing and using them that are illegal, but they are not contraband," he said.

According to Ficacci, Kenniston has a criminal history dating back several years with felony and misdemeanor convictions.

Court records show that Kenniston had been arrested on seven criminal and domestic charges between 1990 and 2002 in South County, East County and San Diego County.

"We've heard of these kinds of cases going very badly," Ficacci said. "We're thankful it ended the way it did."

Last month, Chula Vista police seized several items from Kenniston's home including police-style uniforms and badges, gun parts, a police ball cap, handcuffs and passports.

Kenniston was released Tuesday on $100,000 bail.

This story was updated at 2:11 p.m. on April 12, 2011.

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