PA Police Officer Goes Undercover as Amish Woman
File this one under “Not A Spoof”. Chad Adams, a police sergeant for Pulaski Township in Western PA, recently spent time walking local roads dressed as an Amish woman.
Why would he do such a thing, you’re surely wondering? The department was trying to catch a man who had been exposing himself to Amish children walking home from school. Adams was accompanied by a female officer who also donned Amish garb to try to nab the perpetrator.
Pulaski Township overlaps part of the New Wilmington Amish settlement. The suspect is now believed to have been caught in a different county.
With the investigation ended, it can now be made public. Sergeant Adams did just that last week on the department’s Facebook page.
You might be curious to know if Amish were involved in the plan. Apparently so. According to New Castle News:
The police said they knew the man’s vehicle and followed him every day while he was going down the road and driving around, but they never saw him actually approaching anyone, Adams said. “We wanted to catch him in the act.”
The Amish parents didn’t want their children to testify in court. So, after a couple of weeks of surveillance, Adams asked the parents if he could use the women’s outfits.
“They agreed and set me up with something that fit. They had us hooked up with bonnets, aprons, dresses and shawls.”
He and the Wampum officer — with their duty belts, handcuffs and radios hidden — dressed in the outfits every day for a couple of weeks and would walk along the roads in frigid temperatures where the man had been seen.
“We figured if he was driving down the road and saw what he thought were Amish women walking he wouldn’t notice I was a guy until he got out of the vehicle,” Adams said.
In different circumstances, Amish would find men dressing as women absurd or offensive. Not in this case.
It’s too bad this had to happen. Nonetheless, good for the police taking such a creative approach to protect the innocent.
Also file this under “What is once seen can never be unseen.” I’m not so sure that it’s a compliment to the Amish women when this can pass as just another hen in the hen house. (ha) But hey, kudos to the guy for doing what it takes to nab the bad guys — even if “what it takes” is itself a crime against the optic nerve. (ha)
Great story — thanks for sharing.
Amish cooperation with police
I was actually a little surprised and impressed the local Amish went along (New Wilmington is pretty conservative), but when it’s your children involved certain qualms can go out the window.
I guess it’s a lot easier for a man to pose as a mostly-covered up Amish female, than say a woman at a dinner party or cheerleader at a football game.
You got that right — nothing makes you take a seriously look at the legitimacy of your convictions as knowing your child’s welfare may depend on it.
Yeah, it is probably easier…, and a good thing the Amish women are “plain” — there ain’t enough makeup to make that guy’s mug look pretty. (ha)
Police officer goes undercover as Amish woman
Sir, I’m a Mennonite in Alabama and I just wanted to say you are so right. When anything untoward happens involving children you want to do anything to help the police catch the perpetrator even going undercover as an Amish woman. Yes, it’s a bit unorthodox, and maybe even a little bit offensive to those who feel a man doesn’t belong in women’s clothing…but if it leads to this man’s capture…Praise the Lord no other children will see what cannot be unseen.
I will pray for that man that he realizes his sin, repents and comes to Christ. Paul, after all, was a good example of that. Thank you, Pat
All of a sudden the movie interaction “Do I look Amish / You look plain” in Witness takes on a whole different slant because of this real life cop going Old Order. Oh gosh.
Exposing his best side
I asked Mark if this had ever happened in his community. He said that indeed it had. For two days in a row over at the east district school a car of teenage boys had driven by and they had all exposed their best sides to the school children just as they were coming out the lane to go home. One of the school board members called the sheriff and the third day, here they came again. But, this time, the sheriff was waiting for them, hidden up the lane to a camp ground across the way from the school. The sheriff escorted each of the boys to their homes and explained what they had been doing to their parents. The sheriff said all of the parents were horrified that their boys had been doing this. The one dad was reported to have said, “You want to show your behind to little kids. Well, I can guarantee you you’re going to show your behind to me and a strap and we’ll see if you ever do this again.”
Mark, also, said he was visiting Amish friends in Holmes County a few years ago. They were all sitting out on the front porch. These folks’ home wasn’t very far off of the road. (I’ve never been there.) Anyway, a car load of teenage boys went by with the windows rolled down and their intelligence showing. Mark’s friends kept apologizing for this. He said he told them, “Hey, if you arranged for this to happen, then you should apologize. But, I doubt it you did so that you don’t need to apologize to me for somebody else’s ignorance.”
Amish seen as easy targets
Don thanks for sharing this story, I remember Mark telling me about the first incident when I visited you all last summer…sounds like the incident in Mark’s community was more of a dumb teenage “prank”, while this PA story sounds like someone with mental/sexual issues. Either way, I think Amish are seen as easy victims, particularly if it’s kids out on a road with no access to vehicles or cell phones to alert anyone.
Mark’s response to those friends in Holmes County was spot-on!
Awesome!! Go Get Em, Sheriff!! 🙂
I’m glad the Amish in this case worked WITH law enforcement in this instance. It’s not much different than cops in the “English world” pretending to be 15-year-old girls online in order to trap internet sexual predators.
Yay for Sgt. Adams + other undercover cops!
I’ve heard of cases where the police investigated this kind of thing, but the going under-cover is a new one to me.
I know of one woman who saw a guy getting ready to expose himself and she quickly took the buggy whip out and waved it out the side of the buggy and the would-be flasher got back in his car and fled.
Congratulations to Erik and to “Amish America” for breaking this story and for scooping the TV networks. The Lancaster NBC affiliate carried the story today, and the NYC CBS affiliate is also airing it on tonight’s news. Neither gave any attribution to Erik or to AA.
Actually, I bet the Pulaski Township PD came up with the plan after watching a certain Discovery Channel program featuring people masquerading as Amish!
Undercover Amish news coverage
Thanks City, I think we may have been more of a stepping stone to national coverage…I first heard about it from the local news outlets. They had covered it last week and again a couple days ago after Chad Adams shared it on his FB page April 9.
Shortly after I posted this yesterday the large social site Reddit linked to this post. Then I noticed a few hours later it had started showing up on national news outlets. I’m guessing they were alerted to it by its appearance on Reddit.
I’m glad this got a lot of coverage in that it may give people preying or considering preying on the Amish pause. Not that Amish-garbed police will now be running undercover stings left and right…but this sends a message that you can’t just assume Amish will take abuse and keep quiet about it.
I still wonder what other Amish people think about the cooperation with police. I’d guess most would be fine with it but some might not, even given the circumstances.
I’m Amish and I think it was a good idea. I would not want my wife or children running into someone like that. Though I guess my children running into a policeman wearing Amish clothes would be a little weird. 🙂
Abuse against Amish
Mark, that sounds perfectly normal to me 🙂 If you haven’t already, you might find this article by Bryan Byers interesting:
“AMISH VICTIMIZATION AND OFFENDING: A RURAL SUBCULTURE’S EXPERIENCES AND RESPONSES TO CRIME AND JUSTICE”
I wonder how much of that type of thing you see in your community in Holmes County.
Obviously there were the big, strange Mullet beard-cutting events. I imagine the types of things Byers describes (harrassment & prank type incidents) would happen in a community the size of Holmes Co…though generally speaking there seems to be a healthy community relationship between non-Amish and Amish in your area.
Uh...Quick Question (or two)
I’ve been so busy with college these past few weeks that I have not been able to follow the blog.
I’ve researched it, sort of, before, and I did not know that there were any Amish in Alabama (not enough for a community). Did I misunderstand the URL you listed?
I am very interested in this, as I hope to attend veterinary school in Auburn.I feel that it would be misleading to say that I am Amish, but I feel that, if I were to be true to my beliefs and be surrounded by people with similar convictions, I’d have to enter such a faith. Before that happens(by GOD’s Will), I am certain I will have to lose the tablet (even with the electric New Order).
So here are the questions:
Do the Beachy Amish share the same belief on the assurance of salvation as the New Order does?
Would you know how accepting the New Order and the Beachy would be of a female attending Vet school, while in the faith? Of a female veterinarian (only while unmarried, of course.)
I am not an expert on the Mennonite faith. Do you know (or anybody else) know of any groups that preach KJV strictly and believe in the assurance of salvation?
Sorry for all of the questions! I like to know of the various faiths, and my options.
Are you familiar w/ the website BeachyAM? It might answer your questions. If you can find a Beachy or conservative Mennonite church in your area, that would be a good starting point. Most of these groups rely heavily, if not exclusively on the KJV.
I have glanced at it (a five-hour glance!). I read the part about salvation. I am not entirely certain on their meaning do they believe that they can lose their salvation if excommunicated, do they believing in the assurance of salvation, or do they believe that there are certain things other than professing GOD/repentance of sins are required?
I don’t know if I was being too careful or too careless while reading…
KJV (or rather, Ada, if you visit my new blog)
My husband and I have been attending one of the churches listed on the BeachyAM directory for almost a year. Many church members would describe themselves as “conservative Mennonite” rather than “Beachy.” Nuances I haven’t entirely grasped yet. Most of the oldest generation was born OO Amish.
Every church member believes that “by grace are ye saved through faith;and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph 2:8-9 Salvation is in no way tied to excommunication. In our church you would only be excommunicated after committing grave sin that had already likely caused you to no longer be saved, for example, if a baptized member would deny the existence of God.
Your presence would be warmly welcomed at our church. Higher education is not the norm, but is also not unheard of. I know of one unmarried woman who is attending college for missions-related skills. Our church is fairly diverse. For example, if you walked in during worship you would see a variety of sizes and styles of head coverings. Some women wear very plain cape dresses, while a few wear modest, store bought skirts and blouses. Families have freedom to decide what technology limitations work best for them. The emphasis is on following Jesus as our Savior and living in obedience to God’s word, rather than on church rules. Every church is different. I wish you blessings in your search.
You are so kind! I truly thank you for your well wishes.
I have been saved since October 2012, so I am still new to the true Faith. Slowly, I have grown more conservative, due to my study of the Scriptures. In my part of the country (NW Florida), I feel a little out of place, for a lack of a better way to put it. My view on the Scriptures are ‘all over the place’- not exactly Presbyterian, nor exactly Baptist, so on.
In short, I am still learning and growing in God.
Please, I just started a blog that might be an aid to Learn. I’d be glad if you put in your say/testimony.
Thank you for the invitation! I will pay your blog a visit.
Higher education and Amish church membership
KJV I don’t recall what exactly the article says about Alabama, but there are no Old Order Amish in Alabama today (Mississippi has one community, also S. Tennessee).
For answers to the other Beachy-related questions I would suggest what Naomi recommends, here is the site she mentioned: http://www.beachyam.org/
As far as the New Order/vet school question, I can only give the standard info that Amish don’t pursue or encourage higher education. That said there have certainly been converts to the Amish who have had education beyond the Amish-prescribed 8 grades.
I’m not going to be able to give an answer to your very specific-circumstance question about Vet school though I’d expect that most Amish would feel attending a higher institution of education while a church member would run counter to Amish mores and would be “not something we do”, ie not in the spirit of the church community.
That said New Order Amish tend to be more comfortable with things other Amish might not be however (mission work, photos, etc). Best advice is probably ask someone who is in the church you have in mind 🙂 Would be curious to know what response you get to that sort of question.
I know that it is a very strange question(s).
Actually, I live in NW Florida, near Perdido Key, so I have pretty much 0% access to an Amish community (unless if I get a scholarship to vet school in S Florida. I have been submitted test scores to schools in states where there are plenty of Amish. But where ever He Leads me…)
Here, we have a small (or extremely shy) Mennonite population (I don’t blame them either way- people here openly gawk!). Some dress Plain, others do not. All own cars (no buggies here!).
Thank you for your help!
KJV/Erik/others, I’m walking into the middle of this thread and only have time for a quick response (so forgive me if I’m answering a question that really hasn’t been asked (ha)). But last summer my wife and I spend most of a week with an Amish family in Mt. Hope, OH. A daughter of the family had been baptized sometime during the past year (and was thus a church member). (Her grandfather is a minister within their congregation.) And at that time she was attending some kind of post-parochial school, learning to do book-keeping/payroll/IRS-type-reporting as I recall. Obviously that isn’t higher education on the level of schooling required to be a vet, but she was pursuing a degree of advanced education (for Amish), and apparently with the blessing of the church leadership.
Amish & advanced formal education
Don that is a good point, Amish do take those types of classes. In her case that’s probably more about fulfilling a practical need with targeted additional education taken in a limited fashion. Full-time Amish accountants also take these courses.
I wouldn’t be surprised if a little more of this type of supplemental or advanced formal education trickles in in the coming years and decades. One objection to higher education and advanced degrees is the sense of individualism and pride it can foster. However an occupation which would be about serving the community–eg something related to veterinary or a medical professional working for the Amish–might at some point be seen differently than an advanced degree in say English Literature or Anthropology 🙂
I have read the article. Probably most Amish people could tell a few stories about being misused but it seems to me we don’t hear as much about that as we did maybe twenty years ago. Most of the non-Amish around here are Mennonites or have Amish or Mennonite backgrounds or are tourists. I’m sure that makes a difference. We live on a pretty quiet road and don’t hear of too many problems right in our neighborhood.
Some of what we do hear is being done by young Amish out tearing around, but that tends to be less harmful stuff like toilet papering trees or the like. (Less harmful but still annoying.)
The whole “rumspringa” thing mentioned in the article is kind of misleading. Yes, there are some who go that route, but don’t overlook the many who do not either out of personal conviction or concerned parents. Suggesting most young folks get into that is very misleading, like saying all non-Amish youth act the same.
Popular Rumspringa depictions
For me the greatest value in that article was the look into those who do harm to Amish–often people who are literally and figuratively close to the Amish.
Also interesting was the follow-up info on the Schwartz case in Indiana–that the father of the girl who was killed and one of the boys throwing projectiles that night had developed a relationship over the years.
I’ve heard similarly from other Amish people, that Rumspringa is often depicted misleadingly…I’m not Amish, but I think that would be one of the more annoying things about how you are portrayed, particularly since those portrayals are lately amplified via TV and increased media coverage.
Not to throw a lot of links your way, but this short piece was written by a Lancaster Amish friend of mine, on Rumspringa myths and reality.
Many of his points resonated with me, then again I am looking at it with outside eyes:
“The idea that parents encourage the youth to sample the world with the hope that this inoculates them against the world is very much a myth.
Amish parents like any other parents are very concerned about their children’s behavior and do everything they can to help the young make good choices. The youth are not encouraged to sow their wild oats. When a young person decides to be rowdy and engage in deviant behavior they are making a choice of their own. Certainly not at their parents’ behest or suggestion.”
A problem with definitions?
Erik, I don’t know a lot about Rumspringa — actually, nothing firsthand (directly from the Amish). But the descriptions I’ve heard from those that are personally familiar with it have lead me to believe that part of the misconceptions may revolved around a difference in definitions/understanding of terms. When “English” hear about teens “going wild,” well, relative to our norm that conveys a host of really bad things. But “going wild” (relative to the Amish norm) may not be understood by the English to mean the same — we have a different beginning reference point. For example, I heard someone speak of the Amish teens really going wild and then went on to detail that it involved putting a boom box in their buggy, drag-racing with other buggy-driving teens, maybe putting some sports-team stickers on the buggy, staying out ’til “late”, etc. — stuff that is usually part-and-parcel of the English norm for teens. What’s your take on this — could part of the misunderstanding be that we’re using the same term but with two different meanings?
For many Amish young folks, the “wild behavior” you talked about it about as far as it’s going to go and though it might concern their parents it’s not the stuff that’s going to make headlines. But let’s be honest and admit it does not always stop there. There are Amish young folks in some communities and in some families who will get involved in drinking or drugs and the like and their parents are going to feel just like many non-Amish parents are going to feel.
Certainly — and sorry if it sounded like I thought differently. In fact, I’ve heard from reliable sources of Amish kids that did just that.
But that being said, I still have to wonder if there is a *general* misconception beyond the few (?) outliers that comes from using the same term with different meanings, like I outlined above.
An Amish definition of "wild" behavior?
Interesting question Don. I like Mark’s answer, for what it’s worth I might add that when some Amish families have issues with their children participating in sports (and some of the more conservative-minded Amish in particular do), there probably is some range in defining what “wild” means (especially when we consider that most American parents would heartily welcome their children participating in just about any sports vs. burning time and retinas in front of video game screens–not to mention the much worse behaviors they could be up to).
That said, and as Mark notes, Amish youth and families are not immune to issues with drugs and drinking. But if I had to guess I’d say overall it is not as much of a problem as in the general public, though some communities and groups have reputations for more of this sort of behavior than others.
Also, as the Lancaster Amish writer I shared above notes elsewhere in his Rumspringa piece, “degrees of parental resistance and correction vary some” which can factor into the issue, just as individual parents’ perception of what constitutes “wild” behavior no doubt varies as well.
Erik, I have no trouble believing that all this is true; and didn’t mean to take issue with Mark either. My earlier interjection into this thread was not meant to speak to the whole issue of Rumspringa or wildness, but was limited to the specific sub-topic of “misconceptions” that you had mentioned in the post just prior to mine. And I, for one, found that no small portion of my early concepts of “Amish gone wild” was a misconception due to superimposing my understanding of the term “wild” that didn’t completely dovetail with the intents of others using the same term.
But I belabor my point. Sorry if I wasn’t clear. Thanks for the feedback.
Good points. As a parent to teenagers I can tell you we ARE concerned about our children’s behavior & choices and there have been times we’ve been grieved at choices they made or poor judgment used. I work in a public place and deal with a lot of non local people and the Rumspringa thing is definitely the most asked question.
That would be an unfortunate woman, looking like that
No wonder the criminal was caught in another county. He probably took one look at this “Amish woman” and ran away in terror.
Just want you to know I was not offended or anything. You brought up some good points, as did Erik. It’s interesting to me how things can look from other people’s viewpoints.
No offense taken, Mark — and none intended going the other direction either.
I thought this was her....errr...him
I just happened to be looking up some “Amish” items on EBay when I came across this picture.
I thought it looked like the guy listed at the top of this page…. but it was of an Amish woman back in 1939! Wow!
Tom in Lincoln
I haven’t seen anything linking this undercover officer story with the following (as noted above the suspect was apparently caught), but a man was just arrested for “luring” Amish children in this same community: http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2015/02/16/man-facing-charges-for-allegedly-attempting-to-lure-amish-children-into-outhouse/