MONROEVILLE, Pa. — A deputy fire chief is accused of impersonating a police officer after he conducted a traffic stop in Monroeville, police said.
The incident happened on Sept. 13 when a motorcyclist was reported to be driving erratically on William Penn Highway, according to a criminal complaint. The driver later called police to notify them that he had been pulled over by a man who he wasn’t sure was an officer.
A license plate number was provided to police and the man who conducted the traffic stop was identified as George Gerstacker, 46, the complaint said.
Gerstacker, a deputy fire chief at Monroeville Station 5, placed a call to authorities himself to inform them that “he pulled the motorcycle over and obtained his information. He was requesting to know who was on duty and stated that he wanted to have this individual cited,” according to the complaint.
The motorcyclist was later told by police that Gerstacker was not an officer and that a written statement was needed if he wanted to pursue charges.
In his written statement to police, the motorcyclist said that Gerstacker had pulled alongside him in a vehicle with flashing lights and was waving his arms for him to pull over, the complaint said. The statement went on to say that the motorcyclist complied and that Gerstacker “was very aggressive and pushy.”
The motorcyclist was informed by Gerstacker that he would receive a citation in the mail, the complaint said.
Gerstacker, who is also a former Monroeville police/fire dispatcher and volunteer fireman, is charged with impersonating a public servant and official oppression.
“I don't know what caused him to do this. It's very dangerous to do what he did,” Monroeville Station 5 Fire Chief Ron Harvey said. “I'm quite frankly shocked and surprised at this whole thing.”
Harvey said Gerstacker wore a lot of hats at the department in his 13 years with them, including deputy chief, emergency medical coordinator and the finance secretary. He said the station recently bought a $250,000 ambulance, which Gerstacker was preparing to get licensed.
“It's so new it's not licensed by the state yet. Guess who was responsible for getting it licensed,” Harvey said.
The fire chief said he'll have to find someone else to handle that and Gerstacker’s seven other responsibilities.
Harvey said while Gerstacker may have had good intentions, he shouldn't have pulled the driver over.
“Do I wish he hadn't done it? Of course, but that's not where we're at today,” he said. “Fred is a good guy, but he made a poor decision and he's going to have to answer for it one way or another.”
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