ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — A Tinder match led law enforcement to an Albuquerque man allegedly posing as a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office deputy. Law enforcement says he even had a Glock 9mm handgun to complete the look. “When someone’s posing as a deputy, that’s a huge concern for us,” said Sheriff John Allen of the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO.)
Rico TreShon Dukes, 26, has been charged with impersonating a police officer and unauthorized wearing of a police uniform and badge. BCSO says he was using a dating profile on Tinder that included Dukes in a BCSO uniform and a photo of a fully marked patrol car.
“Anybody that poses as a law enforcement officer—we have a high priority job and people should trust in us. That builds a lot of mistrust and it’s concerning because that person could sway somebody, could do something nefarious of nature that, we don’t want that. We want to make sure that they know that we are a deputy working for Bernalillo County,” Sheriff Allen said.
Dukes was discovered after a Bernalillo County employee matched with him on Tinder, according to a criminal complaint filed with the Metropolitan Court. The employee and Dukes messaged each other – and Dukes allegedly talked about life on the job as a sheriff’s deputy, even though he wasn’t one.
He messaged in detail about his ‘work’ for the department, saying he had ‘been on morning duty these past few weeks just because of the operations’ he’d been doing; and saying he ‘did one year with APD and that was horrible so [he] lateraled over to BCSO.’ He also claimed to patrol certain areas, including south if I-40 and in the International District. He told his Tinder match people called him ‘Officer Dukes.’
“We all looked at it and had our personnel look and we said, ‘that’s not one of our deputies’ so we double check and then that’s when the major concern came up,” Sheriff Allen said.
To catch Dukes, law enforcement showed up at a “date” between the employee and Dukes at Monroe’s in Albuquerque. When he arrived, Dukes was wearing BCSO patches, a badge, and a duty belt complete with a handgun and multiple ammo magazines, according to the criminal complaint. “I don’t know what he was trying to do. I don’t know what he was trying to get, but just impersonating us is a huge problem,” Sheriff Allen said.
The criminal complaint says Dukes got his BCSO gear from a uniform store several months prior by claiming to be shooting promotional videos for the department. The sheriff says they’re investigating exactly how Dukes got his hands on a BCSO uniform: “That is concerning to me. Usually when you go to any uniform shop they make sure and ensure that you are an law enforcement officer and specifically what office or department that you’re working for. I do not know what happened; we’re looking further into that. So, we’re alerting this specific uniform shop probably to keep an eye out,” Sheriff Allen says, “Because if he did it, and I don’t know how many others are out there, but somebody else will try it.”
Sheriff Allen says this type of crime doesn’t happen that often: “Not a lot. It’s rare. We don’t see it. It’s not once a year, once a month. It’s pretty rare. I haven’t seen a case like this probably for at least two or three years. But when it does come up, it’s pretty alarming to the public.”
The sheriff says he doesn’t know how many other people may have fallen victim to Dukes’ impersonation or how long the profile has been up. “All I know is if he even had it up for two hours, that’s long enough for me. And that’s something we don’t want somebody posing as one of us,” Allen says.
The sheriff says Dukes has applied to work for the Albuquerque Police Department and BCSO in the past but was denied.
Dukes is facing misdemeanor charges. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty, but BCSO is asking anyone with information regarding Dukes to reach out to the Sheriff’s Office at (505) 798-7000.
“If you’ve had any interactions with him specifically when it comes to this and he was impersonating one of us please let us know and our investigators,” Sheriff Allen says, “That way we can make sure we follow up on the investigation — and our biggest concern was to make sure there weren’t any victims of a crime while he was impersonating one of us. So, I want to make sure that didn’t happen.”