Law enforcement on the cheap…

This story showed up on our neighborhood “Nextdoor Digest” last week, which triggered some long ago memories of growing up in Ruidoso.

This sighting happened in metropolitan Rodeo, NM, about as far in the southwestern corner of our state as you can get. It seems that the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department — apparently short on staff, budget and ideas — decided to park a mothballed police cruiser with an inflatable dummy in the driver’s seat in a conspicuous location in Rodeo in hopes of deterring crime. 

Inflatable dummy, complete with uniform, waiting to terrorize law breakers in mothballed Hidalgo County police cruiser.

You’ll note that the cruiser in the photograph appears to be an early 90s vintage Chevrolet Impala, the last big sedan GM ever offered as a police car. Most were mothballed by the year 2010. Any crook today worth his salt would probably spot that clue right away and conclude that the aging car was no threat. Other police cruiser accoutrements, such as the obligatory spotlight, have been stripped away and the light bar looks like something from the early Anasazi era. 

This reminded me of a time Ruidoso when police purchased a fleet (well, actually just two) 1961 Chevy sedans with the infamous “409” hot rod V8. All of us gear-head guys in town were excited about the presence of this hot engine in our community. After a few years, the police department updated its two-car fleet with something less exciting, but managed to keep one of the units. They parked it in a conspicuous spot right on Sudderth Drive near where the local bad boys with hot cars would do smoky doughnuts in an empty parking lot and head back up the street to try to spot girls visiting from Texas. I don’t think the Ruidoso cops every fooled anyone with the toothless warrior.

As for me, my ride at the time was a hand-painted blue 1942 WWII jeep which did not attract many members of the opposite sex. With an asthmatic four-cylinder engine, a doughnut or burnout was not an option.  It was, however a convertible — only because the original canvas top rotted away years before I became its owner.

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