In January, police chiefs around California got letters informing them that new leaders were in place at the Masonic Fraternal Police Department. Which got them wondering, what on earth is the Masonic Fraternal Police Department? Turns out, it's a self-anointed group whose website claims jurisdiction in 33 states and roots that go back to "the 'Knights Templar's' back in 1100 BC"—a 3,000-year-old claim that looks to be a typo (1100 AD is probably what was intended). Actual police were not impressed, however, and they arrested three people on suspicion of impersonating a police officer—one of them an aide to California Attorney General Kamala Harris, reports the Los Angeles Times. Brandon Kiel, 31, is now on administrative leave from his state post. Also arrested were David Henry and Tonette Hayes.
"Detectives conducted a thorough investigation in collaboration with several law enforcement agencies and determined MFPD was not a legitimate police agency," says the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Raids at two addresses turned up weapons, badges, uniforms, and what NBC News calls "police-type vehicles." It's not clear what exactly the MFPD has been doing these last 3,000 years or so, but a post on its website says it supports police agencies, adding: "When asked what is the difference between The Masonic Fraternal Police Department and other Police Departments the answer is simple for us. We were here first!" The sheriff's department accuses the trio of trying to deceive community members "for a purpose yet to be determined."