A Maryland man, charged with impersonating a law enforcement agent, gained access to a City of Falls Church Police department office and conducted surveillance at the Eden Center with the help of a Falls Church police detective last September, according to reports and court records released last week.
Itai Ozderman, 35, of Gaithersburg, Md., convinced his girlfriend, Falls Church detective Jannie Clipp, that he was a Baltimore County Police Officer working on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Task Force, a search warrant obtained by WUSA9 alleges.
Ozderman, records show, has never been a law enforcement officer of any kind.
The warrant also alleges that Ozderman was seen sitting inside the Falls Church Police Criminal Investigations Office with Clipp and may have had access to the department’s computers.
The FBI has taken over the investigation, Falls Church Police Chief Mary Gavin said, to determine “how deep the compromise is” of the police department.
“[Falls Church citizens] have an expectation of public trust and this to me is a violation of public trust,” the chief said. “And I take that very seriously. It’s a top priority.
“I work for the public and if they can’t trust us, then what are we? We’re not worth a darn.”
Gavin confirmed that Ozderman did enter the Criminal Investigations office but could not verify that he had access to a computer.
Clipp, a member of the department since 2004, has been suspended as the FBI continues its investigation, Gavin said.
WSUA9 reported that Clipp claimed she was the Eden Center in Falls Church on September 30, 2016, “conducting surveillance on a target vehicle for an ATF Task Force.”
Ozderman was there as well, wearing a ballistic vest with an “ICE” placard across the chest and was reported to be “enforcing or attempting to enforce criminal laws,” according to court records.
Sergeant Sonya Richardson of Falls Church called the FBI and found that no such surveillance mission had been planned.
On February 22, the FBI, a Montgomery County SWAT team and Falls Church police conducted a raid at Ozderman’s Gaithersburg home. Agents found ten firearms during the search, including seven handguns, two M4 style assault rifles and one shotgun.
Agents also discovered an array of law enforcement gear in Ozderman’s car, including body armor, tactical vests, ammunition, a working police radio and Baltimore County police badge.
Ozderman has been charged in Montgomery County with impersonating a police officer and transporting a handgun in a vehicle. Federal charges may be forthcoming.
Court records confirm Ozderman has worked as an I.T. engineer at The Washington Post for around two years.
Gavin indicated changes will need to be made in the department to ensure this does not happen again.
“It’s not something that you’re proud of, so it is a gut check,” she said. “I’m all about, ‘We made a mistake, we need to fix it.’ We need to figure it out. And we need to talk about it. Our responsibility — let’s call it a public trust issue — is first to identify it, second is to investigate it, and then you need to take corrective action.”
Gavin pointed to more thorough auditing of schedules as a new policy change, as well as tightening the inspection of credentials for anyone entering the department.
Falls Church City Mayor David Tarter released a statement saying he is “unable to comment on a pending case. I appreciate the Police Department reporting this to the FBI for their thorough investigation.”
Multiple members of the City Council said there has yet to be in-person discussion about the case.
Councilmember David Snyder said he “plans to raise management and policy issues” and is “interested in what management will do to prevent issues like this in the future.”