By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
On the doors: the seal of Mesquite police.
Sounds like the Mesquite police are thumbing their noses at the hapless cocaine dealer who actually forfeited two such pickups. But it's also a little protective cover: They don't want taxpayers to think the police department is spending $40,000 or more on a vehicle.
"We seized it from a drug dealer, and it was paid for," says Sergeant Mike Bradshaw. "There was no lien on it. We converted the truck to our use and had it repainted and had the decals put on it." The truck now has a cherry top and a computer data system. The dealer's other seized vehicle was sold.
It's not unusual for Mesquite PD to use cars or trucks seized from criminals in undercover operations. "They go to the pen or get put on probation, and they don't get their car back," says Mesquite police Chief Gary Westphal. As a rule, he says, coke dealers have much nicer vehicles than methamphetamine dealers. (From Buzz's experience attending meth busts as a cub reporter, those guys tend to have much better porn collections, though. A side effect of meth, we've heard, is that it makes you randy as a congressman. No word on what Mesquite does with seized porn.) In this case, Westphal wouldn't release any details about the dealer who provided cops with the flashy new truck, because he wasn't sure if the man was still behind bars.
"When we commissioned the truck, I had the sign put on it because I anticipated people saying, 'What the heck are they doing with my tax money?'" Westphal says. The first sign was magnetic, but it lasted only 48 hours before someone stole it. He had the sign painted on.
Stealing is, of course, Very Bad, so Buzz is definitely not laughing and clapping our hands in appreciation for the brazen li'l hoodlum who stole a sign off a cop car.
"We've gotten a lot of mileage out of it," Westphal says of the truck. "People honk and wave and give the officers a thumbs-up."
The cops love driving it. "It has a hell of a stereo system," Westphal says. "But I won't let them play it loud."
Could be a trend. The Mesquite PD recently seized a Lincoln Navigator. Westphal plans to have the same message painted on the back.