The Hendricks County (Ind.) Sheriff's Department is using a flame-painted Dodge Charger to approach kids with the impotant message of drug-abuse prevention.
"When most people see a regular police car, they look to it to solve crime activity," according to Chuck Jones, a deputy and the department's D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer. "Many people are afraid to approach the car, and therefore do not see the officers as approachable."
The new vehicle is designed to change this image.
"This car is friendly," Jones said. "Some people have compared it to a NASCAR racecar. It is bold and bright and the kind of vehicle the kids feel comfortable around. It helps us deliver the message that we do more than crime activity."
Deputy Jones approached Sheila Nelson and Tracey White of TKO Graphix, and explained, "I wanted a bright, friendly car with Daren, the D.A.R.E. lion, and flames."
"Our challenge was to incorporate the classic flames, the lion, and bright colors, while still making the vehicle recognizable as an emergency vehicle," according to White. "We have worked with emergency vehicles for years, and it is critical for the safety of the public that the vehicle be instantly recognized."
TKO Graphix accomplished this by designing an oversized star, and the department is equipping the car with a full light package.
This vehicle will help the Indiana agency deliver the message of crime prevention and education. Modern law enforcement agencies do more than resolve crime activity; among various programs, the department supports Neighborhood Crime Watch, Youth Leadership, and D.A.R.E.
"A lot of people don't realize that when we go to a middle school, like Tri-West or Cascade, to conduct a D.A.R.E. program, we not only talk about illegal drugs and prescription drug abuse, we also educate pupils about tobacco and alcohol," Jones said. "Often, these kids do not have the information they need about these 'legal' substances."
According to the official website for the D.A.R.E. initiative, "This year, millions of school children around the world will benefit from D.A.R.E., the highly acclaimed program that gives kids the skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs, and violence."
TKO Graphix offers graphic design, digital and screen-printing, graphic installation and removal. In 2000, TKO was named a 3M Scotchprint Graphics Authorized Manufacturer. Its installers became members of the United Application Standards Group and 3M Certified Installers in 2001. In 2004, TKO moved into its custom, 50,000-square-foot facility in Plainfield, Ind.