There more people out there wearing police uniforms, calling themselves officers and saying they work for a Masonic police force with connections to the Knights Templar?
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is trying to find out, following a bizarre encounter a captain in the Santa Clarita station had with two such individuals in February.
“It was an odd meeting,” said Capt. Roosevelt Johnson. “It just raised my suspicion level.”
Investigators say that in early February, three people — two of them dressed in police uniforms Johnson didn’t recognize — strolled into the Santa Clarita station.
One man introduced himself as chief of the Masonic Fraternal Police Department and told Johnson this was a courtesy call to let him know the agency was setting up shop in the area.
They met for 45 minutes, Johnson said, but he was left confused and suspicious — so much so that he immediately ordered deputies to pull station surveillance video so they would have images of the visitors. He also assigned detectives to check them out.
This week, the three people were charged with impersonating police officers. They are David Henry, who told Johnson he was the police chief, Tonette Hayes and Brandon Kiel, an aide to state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris.
It turns out Henry, Hayes and Kiel had allegedly introduced themselves to police agencies across the state, though it is unclear why. A website claiming to represent their force cites connections to the Knights Templars that they say go back 3,000 years. The site also said that the department had jurisdiction in 33 states and Mexico.
“When asked what is the difference between the Masonic Fraternal Police Department and other police departments, the answer is simple for us. We were here first!” the website said.
Los Angeles County prosecutors said the whole effort was a ruse, though for what purpose remains unclear. The investigation is continuing.
Authorities are asking if anyone has encountered more people posing as officers or has information on the group – officials say that multiple agencies are involved in the investigation and received letters from the organization – to call Det. Amalia Hernandez at (323) 980-2211.