If you live near New Braunfels or were recently driving through and saw a superhero-esque police car trolling around town and did a double take, you saw correctly. The New Braunfels Police Department are now the proud owners of a vehicle that looks more like the Batmobile than a police car, and they took to Facebook late last month to make it very clear how and why they have the car.
According to their Facebook post:
- This is actually not a new car. It’s been on the road since 2015, and the department only owns one such Corvette.
- The goal of its use is for parades, interacting with kids and adults, and to generally help the public have a positive interaction with a police officer.
- Eventually, the car will go up for auction, but not in the near future.
- It is affectionately known as “Coptimus Prime,” referencing the character Optimus Prime from The Transformers movie franchise.
Additionally, the post references a website dedicated to clarifying details about the car specs, including:
- The car is a 2007 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 that has been modified for racing and has 1005 horsepower.
- It was part of a methamphetamine drug bust in 2011 that came after a year-long investigation and ultimately brought down a meth trafficking cell. The cell was connected to a Christian fundamentalist gang called La Familia Michoacana that is well-known for violent dispatch of law enforcement and other perceived enemies as well as meth smuggling.
- It was given to the NBPD in 2013.
- All the money used to turn it into the police car it is today came from other seized funds.
- The car will only be used as a “community outreach tool” and never as a patrol car.
- This is not the only car owned by the police department – or any police department – to come directly from asset forfeiture, but it is the most high-profile one.
- Kids from New Braunfels took part in a contest in 2014 to name the car, and the winning name was “Coptimus Prime.”
- The money made by the corvette at auction will be returned to the fund for seized cash per federal law.
They note, too, that there are specific guidelines for how seized items – cash, cars, weapons, etc. – can be used according to the US Department of Justice to help clarify that they are, in fact, breaking no laws by using the car.
If you are living a life in which frequent police contact due to choices related to drugs is common, it is important to know your rights, and it is equally important to know your responsibilities as well. Here are just a few things you need to know about your rights and responsibilities when it comes to dealing with law enforcement:
- You have the responsibility to show ID at any time. If you are driving, you are also expected to show your registration and proof of insurance. Refusing to show ID because you believe you should not have been stopped is only going to make whatever follows far more difficult than it has to be and will not improve your ability to manage the situation. If you are not a US resident, show your immigration paperwork (carry this with you at all times); if you have no immigration paperwork, simply state that you do not have your ID or let them know that you would like to remain silent. Do not lie and do not give a police officer fake documentation.
- You have the right to be silent. That is, if police officers ask you questions, you can choose not to answer. However, this is going to do little to help you if, for example, the police officer finds drugs on your person or among your belongings. People who are with you have the right to remain silent as well.
- If you are not under arrest, you have the right to leave. If, after a cursory pat down and check of your ID, the police officer finds no weapons, drugs, or paraphernalia but continues to ask you questions, you can ask, “Am I under arrest? Do I have the right to leave?” Remain calm. If the police officer says you have the right to leave, then do so quietly, or quietly sit and wait for other people you are with.
- Police have the right to pat you down and search your clothing. You do not have to consent to a search of your belongings, but if you refuse, they still have the right to search if there is evidence of a crime.
- You have the right to an attorney. If you are arrested, the police continue to question you, and you do not feel comfortable answering questions or you are unsure what the implications will be if you answer, you have the right to ask for a lawyer. If the police officer persists in asking questions, let them know calmly that you prefer to answer with your lawyer present.
The best way to avoid police contact when you are living with an active addiction is to undergo treatment and begin to live a life that is stable and legal. What steps can you take to begin that process for yourself today?