There's a new sheriff in Dallas, and he comes in the form of a long-haired, pierced and tatted drummer from Canada. For Messer's Kenny Youngar, his first day as an Uber legend began just a couple weeks ago, on Valentine's Day. "It's taken on a life of its own," says Youngar. Cruising around Dallas in his 2007 Dodge Charger, a former two-time police chief vehicle, Youngar has become more than just an Uber driver. To his customers, he's known as the Uber Cop.
In the midst of finalizing Messer's long-awaited debut album and in need of a way to supplement his income as a surveillance-camera installer to help support the band, Youngar turned to Uber. There was only one problem: Youngar's 1966 Thunderbird. According to Youngar, Uber requires that drivers operate vehicles manufactured no later than 2006.
Youngar needed a car that would allow him to make service calls for his day job, but also fit the Uber criteria. Having settled on the Dodge Charger, Youngar noticed that ex-cop cars popped up every once in a while.
"The more I kind of researched the police cars, I found that they had pursuit-rated tires for car chases. Like super-badass tires," Youngar recalls enthusiastically. "They had brakes that are bigger than the brakes that are on a Viper, beefier suspension and alternators. And I thought maybe if I got a cop car, it would look kind of good doing my installs, and then at night it'll be like the ultimate Uber car because it's got all the extra stuff in it."
Eventually, Youngar chose a 2007 Dodge Charger that once belonged to the police chief of Southlake, then a police chief in Johnson County. Upon his receipt of the vehicle, the soon-to-be super-chauffeur realized that while the car came fully loaded, electronically speaking, it was lacking a few basics. For example, squad cars do not come with locks on the inside of the back doors -- or seat belts. After springing for those "upgrades," Youngar was ready for action.
After just a couple of weeks of service, locals have dubbed Youngar the "Uber Cop." And on the advice of three passengers, who happened to be marketing professionals, he snatched up Twitter and Facebook pages, along with his own Instagram hashtag (#ubercopdallas), and began to advertise.
The overall reception has been overwhelmingly positive. From scoring a bottle of Double Cross vodka as a tip to offers to buy his car for more than he has spent on it, Youngar says he is still dumbfounded by the whole thing.
"Everybody drives a little bit nicer, I've noticed," Youngar says. "People slow down and they're all using their signals. Also, I picked up some SMU girls the other day and they said they just feel safer getting dropped off at a bar in a police car."
However, it is not all just cops and robbers for this troubadour. Youngar says that on Uber, people do not usually tip. Nevertheless, people love the car and the ride, so they have been throwing a few extra bucks in his direction. Not one to let an opportunity to give back pass him up, Youngar chose to donate his tips to the RMS Listeners Foundation, an organization that supports the families of DFW's fallen police officers and firefighters. For every tip collected, Youngar will not only donate it to the RMS Listeners Foundation, but he will also match it. In addition to the tip donations, the Uber Cop-Mobile bears the Peace Officer's Memorial Foundation vanity plates.
When asked if he's had any negative run-ins with police officers for driving a car that so closely resembles a legitimate cop cruiser, Youngar said, "It's a felony if I use the lights. It's totally illegal for me to use them. I kind of get around that by turning the windshield lights inwards. So, now they're kind of like interior disco lights." As far as trouble, though, nothing yet, just some very confused bicycle cops.
With the success of his Ubering, Youngar and his bandmates can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Uber Cop has got them covered. The extra cash earned from Youngar's adventures in Ubering goes toward funding the final stages of production of Messer's new album, which is slated for release this summer.
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So, what is next for Uber Cop? At the moment, Youngar is toying with the idea of installing LCD screens in the headrests of the seats. He wants to use his new venture to promote local bands' music, including Messer's, and potentially work out a marketing deal with local businesses.
In the meantime, should you be out and about and see a group of people exiting a liquor store and piling into the back of a cop car, do not be alarmed. It is only the Uber Cop: the most fun you can have in the backseat of a cop car without going to jail.
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