Tonawanda News

Canal Fest

July 24, 2009

CANAL FEST: Teen ‘cop’ arrested at Fest

One of eight arrests City of Tonawanda police made Wednesday evening at Canal Fest was of a teenager pretending to be a duly sworn officer of the law.

A Buffalo teenager with just a learner’s permit had vehicles pulling over near Adam and Seymour streets when he activated some 30 emergency lights and even a siren illegally retrofitted onto his car.

“All the lights were on and as far as we could tell he was pulling people over,” City of Tonawanda Police Lt. Fred Foels said. “He was driving around the perimeter of Canal Fest. ... Cars in front of him were actually pulling over.”

Michael J. Burruano, 16, 246 Englewood Ave., Apt. 2, Buffalo, is charged with criminal impersonation of a public servant, having unauthorized colored lights on a vehicle, operating a motor vehicle with a gong/siren/whistle and violating restrictions on his license.

Foels said Burruano claimed to be a member of the Kenilworth Fire Department in the Town of Tonawanda, but that department’s chief flatly denied the claim after being contacted by police.

“He said Burruano was not in any way involved with his department but he had just filed an application to join,” Foels said, adding he was troubled to find an authentic City of Tonawanda fire helmet inside the vehicle.

The 1999 blue Ford Crown Victoria — the same model used for years by police departments — is nearly a dead ringer for an unmarked police vehicle, Foels acknowledged, and was in fact fitted with even more lights than a normal cruiser.

“You should see this thing when it’s lit up,” he said. “It’s amazing. He’s got more lights than any police vehicle in Western New York.”

Police Chief Cindy Young said the same make and model of vehicle is wildly popular among males in this area and offered this advice for anyone suspicious about who is pulling them over:

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