Two people busted for posing as Tulare County Sheriff Deputies

FRESNO, Calif.

Birchfield is a former /*Tulare County Explorer*/. An Explorer is someone under 21 who's given inside access to the life of a peace officer. It includes classroom and field training but investigators say Birchfield for some reason decided he was qualified to teach others. And we're told he did it for free.

Investigators first noticed something was wrong Tuesday when a man came into the /*Tulare County Sheriff*/ substation asking for more information about a "Junior Deputy' program. But there was just one problem.

"There is not a Junior Deputy Program. We have an Explorer program only." said Sgt. Chris Douglass.

Detectives were determined to find out who was running this program.

According to investigators, Brandon Birchfield and another woman dressed in a sheriff's deputy uniform similar to this one and held illegal training sessions.

The victims told the sheriff's office the two taught them things like hand to hand combat and baton weapon training in the Lindsay area. They were even exposed to large amounts of pepper spray.

Investigators served a search warrant inside Birchfield's home on Tuesday. Inside they found a handful of Tulare County Sheriff's deputies uniforms. They also duty belt with a BB gun in the holster as well as a computer that they say was used to make fake manuals.

Birchfield's lives with his mother who did not want to talk about her son's arrest with us. And in a strange twist to this case investigators say Birchfield participated in the Explorers program a few years back. He was kicked out of program in 2006 when instructors found out he had Tulare County Sheriff's uniforms in his possession.

"It's very disappointing to see someone who used to be one of our Explorers go and do something that's criminal. So that's frustrating and it's very unfortunate. It makes our programs unfortunately look bad." said Sgt. Douglass.

Investigators don't know where Birchfield got the uniforms but they notified all uniform shops in Tulare County to be cautious when selling authentic uniforms to imposters.

Birchfield is charged with pretending to be a public officer. His female accomplice was not arrested but she could be charged later this week.

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