Tucson Police are making a new effort to connect with people in our community. They’ve recently started a project, souping up a lowrider police car, and it just debuted at its first car show.
“The vehicle is a tool for communication and building relationships, so that’s why we’re building the car,” said TPD Sergeant William Corvallis.
This project has been three years in the making, ever since some fans came to officers with the idea.
“He said that, you know, there’s some people in a community that would love a lowrider,” explained Corvallis. “It’d be a great community engagement vehicle and there’s a population that community that we can have access to.”
A handful of officers in the department took an old cruiser, and with the help of several local partners, they started making some upgrades, like the donated wheels. They also just got hydraulics installed, so now the car moves up and down.
Interesting to think of how far they’ve come, because lowriders first started using hydraulics in the 1950s, to trick police into thinking the cars were legal height.
Now, this police car is getting new upholstery, and soon, high school students will get involved in solidifying its style.
“The paint job will be very special,” said Corvallis. “So many people from the Tucson community will be painting the car, and we’re going to ask for feedback from the kids, maybe to do a mural or a paint scheme.”
Because these cars have such deep roots in the southwest, Corvallis says police want it to feel like our community’s car.
“How we look at the lowrider vehicles,” he said, “This is artwork. This is mostly in the Hispanic community, very rich in tradition. Large families have had lowriders throughout generations. It’s also a very artistic and this is why it’s so important to get their feedback, committee feedback, because we wanted to do an art project.”
But the car is about more than just looking cool. It’s also giving police a reason to connect with more people.
“One of the things that we’re learning,” Corvallis explained, “when we cruise down the street to some parks, there’s a group of community members that usually will not talk to us. But now that they see the car, they’re interested and they come talk to us, and we start building relationships. You know, ‘I have a lowrider and you have a low rider. How’d you guys you build this?’ It’s just a communication tool, and we get to know each other and it’s been outstanding. It’s been very successful.”
Now, several local car groups are coming together as “The Alliance” to help raise money for the lowrider project through a series of car shows. They had their first show in August, and hope to have more in the future.
The president of the Obsessions Car Club, Robert DiGregorio, says they just want to support such a great effort of police outreach, and maybe change the way people feel about their passion.
“We want to show people that there are two separate sides to the car scene in Tucson. There’s the legitimate car scene, that goes out and does stuff legally like they’re supposed to do, and then there’s the side that does stuff they’re not supposed to do. We want to show police that there’s a law abiding side to the car scene.”
That’s a mutual feeling, as police use this lowrider to bridge a community gap.
“It’s something that the Tucson community be very proud of,” Corvallis said.