The 32-year-old son of Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson was arrested in Mobile County today and charged with impersonating a peace officer. Sands Stimpson, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and land resource manager for a private housing developer, was booked at 11:09 a.m. this morning, according to jail records. He was arrested by a State Trooper from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
In a statement, Sandy Stimpson called the arrest a “misunderstanding” and said his son was in the process of retaining an attorney to resolve it.
“Today, my son, Sands, was pulled over,” Mayor Stimpson said. “In compliance with the officer’s request, he provided identification, including his State of Alabama deputy game and fish warden badge.”
Mayor Stimpson added that the officer couldn’t immediately confirm the badge was valid.
In the statement, released just before 1 p.m., the mayor said he and his family “respect our law enforcement officers for the job they perform.”
Kevin Dodd, chief of law enforcement for the Wildlife and Inland Fisheries Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said deputy game and fish wardens are not issued badges and are told not to represent themselves as officers because they do not have arresting authority. Deputy wardens are issued a piece of paper called a “commission,” he said.
Dodd said he knows some of the deputy wardens have badges made, once an application for the position is accepted. Sand Stimpson’s attorney, Arthur Madden confirmed that his client had such a badge made at a uniform supply shop. Madden said Stimpson took the letter to the shop and had the badge made.
Madden said at 8:30 a.m. Friday his client was pulled over by a state trooper for speeding and the officer noticed the badge Sands Stimpson kept on his wallet. Stimpson and the officer then had a conversation about it, Madden said. He said he hopes the charges will be dropped.
Dodd called the position of deputy warden “honorary” in nature. It is a volunteer position.
The position dates back to the 1930s and 1940s and originally included arresting authority, but now don’t, Dodd said. There were “hundreds” of these officers statewide in the 1960s and 1970s, but there more like a “handful” currently, he said.
Deputy game wardens are used as an “extra set of eyes” for local game wardens in each county, Dodd said.
Deputy warden commissions come on a three-year renewal cycle and Dodd said Sands Stimpson, who originally applied for the position in 2007, was currently in the process of renewing it. Dodd added that he would consider Stimpson’s application current and up to date.
As part of the application, each deputy game warden provides, proof of insurance, proof of a performance bond, name, address and information of the landowner they work for. Dodd said he did not have Stimpson’s information in front of him.
Further details have yet to be released, but the charge is a Class C felony, punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison. Sands is one of four children of Mayor Stimpson who according to state court records, has no prior offenses unrelated to traffic.