Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Man paints car police style


LAS VEGAS, N.M. - Jessie Vigil's black-and-white car sports a red-and-blue emergency bar across the top and the word "police" painted on the doors. Vigil, however, isn't a cop. 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.

He started decorating his 2007 Ford Mustang last summer to look like the police cruiser in the "Transformers" movie because his 7-year-old son, Thomas, was fond of the film.

"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."

He 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.

"Are we violating our own law by not repainting them?" he asked.

He called the state law vague, and noted that normal state police cars aren't Mustangs.

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