APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (KMSP) - A Farmington City Council member is facing charges after impersonating a cop and driving with flashing red and blue lights on his vehicle in Apple Valley, Minn. A siren and PA box similar to ones found in police squad cars were also found on the car belonging to Jason Bartholomay, 41.
On Oct. 26, the Apple Valley Police Department received a report of a suspicious vehicle traveling southbound on Cedar Avenue using red and blue lights to pull over vehicles. When the officer arrived, he noticed a flashing blue light reflect off of a nearby structure and “several vehicles ahead of his squad that continually slowed down and backed off from a vehicle traveling in front of them,” the criminal complaint stated.
Police then conducted a traffic stop on Bartholomay and he denied any knowledge of having flashing lights. While speaking with the councilman, the officer “observed a box that appeared to be used for activating the lights” and asked him to press the button. As a result, police witnessed flashing red and blue lights on the back of his vehicle.
“Mr. Bartholomay stated to Officer Christianson that he was a chaplain for the Minneapolis Police Department and the University of Minnesota Police Department,” the complaint stated. He then told the officer that he uses the lights to respond to “suicidal situations.”
After turning over his rear and front lights to police, additional equipment including a switch system was found on his center console. Underneath the switches was a siren and PA box.
The reporting party told law enforcement that he followed Bartholomay’s vehicle after becoming suspicious when he noticed the driver was wearing an ordinary T-Shirt. He said he observed the flashing lights several different times, and it appeared a vehicle would pull over every time the lights flashed.
According to the complaint, contact was made with both the Minneapolis and University of Minneapolis Police Departments regarding the councilman’s affiliation and both verified that Bartholomay was not a chaplain with either of their departments.
Farmington Mayor Todd Larson says Bartholomay has the council's support and will let the legal process play out.
Fox 9 was unable to reach the councilman for comment, but his defense attorney Hillary Parsons said this was all a misunderstanding. She said her client is a licensed psychotherapist and responds to suicidal patients and other emergencies all the time.
The Farmington council member is being charged with impersonating an officer, driving with prohibited red and colored lights, driving with flashing lights, and driving with prohibited blue lights.