A man hailed as a hero last week for pursuing a drunk-driving suspect while summoning Glendale police on his car phone was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of posing as a police officer, complete with full uniform, badge and gun.
Richard Dean Golding, 30, of Glassell Park was arrested by an officer who was on lookout for a police impostor who reportedly had pulled over and interrogated motorists in recent weeks, Glendale Police Sgt. Pete Michael said.
Michael, who had praised Golding only last week as "the epitome of a concerned and involved citizen" and was considering nominating him for a police award, said after the arrest: "I was burned. We still encourage citizen participation--however not to the degree that Mr. Golding was performing."
Officer Tracy Brown, who had heard unconfirmed reports of a police impostor, stopped Golding's black Buick at 1:30 a.m. in downtown Glendale when she saw the driver was dressed in a police-type uniform.
When Golding stepped out, Brown saw that he was wearing a dark blue shirt and slacks, a gold star that read "Patrol Officer," a Sam Browne belt, a holstered .357 magnum, handcuffs and a baton holder.
"Except for the shape of his badge, suspect Golding was dressed in the exact same police uniform as me, minus my shoulder patches," Brown wrote in her report.
Michael said the Glendale Municipal Code prohibits civilians from wearing a uniform that closely resembles a police officer's.
Inside Golding's car, officers found a police scanner, a baton, two "slim-jim" tools that can be used to open locked vehicles, two sand-filled sap gloves and an off-duty badge holder.
Golding identified himself as a night security guard for a Glendale auto dealership, but his guard license had expired, invalidating his gun permit, police said.
Golding was jailed on suspicion of carrying a firearm without a permit. Glendale police will also ask that he be charged with impersonating a police officer. Investigators will try to find motorists who may have been illegally detained by Golding, Michael said.
On Sept. 19, Golding followed a car that was being driven erratically and relayed the driver's route to Glendale police over his car phone, Michael said. When the driver stopped, Golding talked to the man briefly, then reported the location to police, who arrested the suspected drunk driver.
Michael said Golding was not in uniform when that incident occurred.
Golding was released after posting $2,500 bail and is scheduled for arraignment Nov. 6 in Glendale Municipal Court. He could not be reached for comment, and a representative of his employer, Los Feliz Ford, declined to discuss the incident.