CASA GRANDE, AZ - A Casa Grande police officer frequently has to answer the same question when he drives his police issued Hummer: How much did that cost taxpayers?
The answer: nothing.
In fact, Officer Thomas Anderson can explain how he acquired it just by pointing to the large sign on the Hummer's trunk door. It reads, "Courtesy of Your Local Drug Dealers."
To his knowledge, no other law enforcement agency in the country uses a sign with that wording on a police vehicle.
Anderson asked CGPD to use the H2 as a community vehicle after it was seized in a drug bust last year, and to his surprise, the request was granted.
The department agreed, noting that the Hummer wouldn't make too much money at a police auction anyway, he said.
"Once in a while I'll have someone ask me, ‘What do you mean, do you have a deal with the drug dealers?'" said Anderson. "The answer is yes. We have a deal where if you break the law in our community, we're going to catch you, arrest you and make you pay."
Anderson takes it to local schools where he shows it to students and discusses the dangers of drugs and other potential threats.
"I feel if you want to make a big impact, you need a big look, it needs to attract people's attention," he told ABC15.
Anderson added thousands of dollars of upgrades to the Hummer; including, a new stereo, three flat-screen TVs in the trunk and an Xbox for students to use during his lessons. Keep in mind, everything was either obtained through other drug seizures or received as donations from local businesses, he said. The total cost to taxpayers – zero.
Gasoline costs aren't astronomically high either, saying it's only filled up about twice a month.
He hopes it inspires other agencies to create intriguing vehicles, too, as a way to reach out to the community.
Overwhelmingly, the response has been positive, Anderson told ABC15. "There's about one percent that gives me the evil eye," he said.