Man's fake police cruiser is legal

March 18, 2008 2:20:58 PM PDT
Jessie Vigil isn't a police officer, but his car sure makes him look like one.

Vigil painted his 2007 Ford Mustang black and white, added a red-and-blue emergency bar across the top and painted the word "police" on the doors. The decorating started last summer, in an effort to make the car look like the police cruiser in the "Transformers" movie because his 7-year-old son, Thomas, was a fan.

"My intent was to re-create the movie car," said Vigil, a 35-year-old disabled veteran from the war in Iraq. "When I came back from Iraq, I tried to spoil him. I wasn't the best dad before."

Law enforcement agencies say what he's done with his car isn't illegal as long as he doesn't act like a police officer.

Vigil said he called the district attorney's office beforehand and spoke to Chief Deputy District Attorney Joe Ulibarri, who tried to discourage his decorating scheme but couldn't find anything in the law that would stop Vigil as long as he didn't impersonate an officer.

Ulibarri said a state law prevents people from mimicking state police cars, which are painted black and white. But he also said the state police sell their old cars to private citizens without changing the colors.

"I don't think this guy has any intent to mimic a state police officer," Ulibarri said. "I'm not hearing that he is causing a problem and arresting people."

Vigil did take some liberties with his design. Instead of the familiar slogan "To protect and serve," the car carries the words "To punish and enslave" on the side. Instead of telling people to dial 911 for emergencies, the Mustang advises them to "dial 411 for theater information."


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