Bergen man had knife, handcuffs, badges, phony police gear and more, authorities say

A good Samaritan stopped for speeding at 4 in the morning had more than just illegal emergency lights on his car, police said. Adam Lee Benkel isn’t a police officer or EMT, but he’s been acting — and even dressing — like one, they said.

Photo Credit: RIVER VALE PD;
Photo Credit: RIVER VALE PD;

Adam Lee Benkel (Mugshot: RIVER VALE PD; Others: FACEBOOK)
ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT: Benkel is not only the scion of a philanthropic Woodcliff Lake couple: He is also a repeat offender who’s been under a state order to cut it out. Click here to: READ THE CLIFFVIEW PILOT EXCLUSIVE ….

Benkel is, by all appearances, an earnest, caring type. But an officer who stopped him for doing nearly 50 miles an hour on River Vale Road said Benkel first claimed to be an EMT, which he isn’t, River Vale Police Detective Sgt. John DeVoe said.

Sgt. Christopher Bulger then found

the knife in the car’s console, DeVoe told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.

This led investigators to a trove of phony police paraphernalia — including badges, handcuffs and a starter pistol, the sergeant said.

The Saddle River Day School graduate from Woodcliff Lake is now looking at serious charges.

Emergency squads everywhere have associate members who devote themselves to doing the work without the necessary training or certification. What worries some of the genuine responders — and angers veterans like DeVoe — are those who cross the line.

“In this day and age, law enforcement absolutely will not tolerate someone falsely purporting to be an emergency service worker in any capacity,” the sergeant told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. “They will be prosecuted.”

Benkel, who turns 27 tomorrow, is known for playing war games and dressing in various costumes.

He publicly displays photos of himself in medieval garb, combat fatigues, emergency worker sweatshirts — and, in one case, an EMT dress uniform and badge.

Benkel has no formal affiliation with any of those agencies, DeVoe said.

Two years ago, Benkel skidded out in the same Subaru Legacy he was stopped in last week and had to be cut from the car. He’s had intensive surgery on his ankle, which he said required the insertion of cadaver parts that left him in a cast and laid up for several months.

After being stopped early Thursday, Benkel “first indicated that he was an EMT and then that he was in the process of becoming an EMT,” DeVoe told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.

Asked whether he had any weapons, “he opened the center console and the officer saw the knife, along with a badge and police-style handcuffs,” he said.

The officer also found the starter pistol, “which could be mistaken for a real gun in the dark,” DeVoe said.

Detectives later obtained a warrant and found “an array of emergency service paraphernalia, from a police hat to various badges, police radios, a gun holster and EMT-laden jackets and sweatshirts,” the sergeant told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. Benkel bought some of the gear on the Internet and obtained the rest from other sources, he said.

Benkel was due in Municipal Court this afternoon on criminal weapons charges. He also received summonses for speeding, driving a vehicle with an obstructed view and a trio of complaints involving the illegal emergency lights.

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