Drug Seized Mustang added to DARE program

The message behind the Owensboro Police Department’s new DARE car is summarized on the spoiler, behind the blue flames scorching down the side of the shiny, black paint in three words: drug seized vehicle.

The police department’s new 2005 Ford Mustang has been on the road for about two weeks since it received its makeover from a drug transporter to drug prevention vehicle.

And to the students DARE Officer Troy Couch visits every week to teach about drug danger, the simple message the car delivers is as memorable as the first time they get to climb inside his “tricked out” ride.

This 2005 Mustang is the police department’s newest DARE vehicle.

“Whoever had it last must be boo-hooing because it’s really cool now and they don’t get to have it,” said Cody Johnson, 11, a fifth-grader at the 5-6 Center. “It will help kids to understand not to do drugs because if you do, you don’t get a cool car.”

Last year, the former owner of the Mustang was arrested by the OPD Street Crimes Unit for purchasing three grams of methamphetamine from undercover agents. Sgt. Tim Clothier, head of the unit, said there were no liens on the car, and the department can ask courts to forfeit any property that is proven to facilitate drug activity or that is purchased from drug proceeds.

In May, the Mustang owner signed over the vehicle in a plea agreement with Daviess County Circuit Court.

“Hopefully, this will send the message out not only to kids but to adults that if they’re involved in criminal activity, they stand a chance at losing what they’ve worked for,” Clothier said.

Couch said that while the last DARE car, a red Chevrolet Camaro, was designed with a cartoon lion to appeal to younger students, his car was painted to attract the middle school-aged students he teaches.

“The car has an impact they will never forget because people associate the program with the car,” he said. “People will come up and say, ‘Do you still have that ’88 Firebird? When I was in DARE, that was the car.’ ”

And many of his students may recognize the flames artist Steve Ray designed from the countless Little League batting helmets he has customized before putting his art on wheels. Ray is the owner of Airbrush Inc.

Ray said many of the details of the paint job, such as the OPD badge complete with all the stitches, were done freehand by looking at a picture. The entire paint job is done in 100 percent paint without vinyl and took about 40 hours to complete before Gipe Auto Color and D-N-J Auto Parts applied a donated clear coat.

The $3,400 paint job is being covered by funds received from the department’s annual golf scramble, while the in-dash DVD player and window tinting are being donated by Best Buy and Hollywood Window Film & Auto Accessories.

Couch said he hopes to see the Mustang win first place in July at the DARE car national competition in Nashville to follow the Camaro’s win in 2000.

To 11-year-old Savannah Estes, the car is already a winner.

“This is so much better than (the show) ‘Pimp My Ride,'” Estes said. “Because those cars have nothing on this. It has flames and that Commonwealth thing on the front. It’s awesome.”