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Police look to refurbish old D.A.R.E. Corvette

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    Police look to refurbish old D.A.R.E. Corvette

    Police look to refurbish old D.A.R.E. Corvette

    By Stephanie Taylor, Staff Writer
    Published: Friday, May 22, 2009 at 11:57 a.m.
    Last Modified: Friday, May 22, 2009 at 11:57 a.m.

    TUSCALOOSA | Heads turn when Tuscaloosa Police Officer Robert Fourt goes anywhere in the department’s show car -- a Dodge Charger with extensive modifications and a designer paint job.

    Often, when talking to people about the Charger, people ask Fourt about the department’s old 1987 Corvette.

    The Corvette was seized from a drug dealer in 1994 and used in the anti-drug D.A.R.E. program for nearly a decade. Now in disrepair, the car known by hundreds of former Tuscaloosa school children sits in an empty lot off 35th Street.

    The removable hard top has leaked, damaging the interior. Weather stripping has rotted and the electrical system has gone haywire. The doors won’t open, and the rear spoiler seems barely attached to the body.

    “The engine is in good shape. The main issue is the electrical system,” Fourt said.

    He hopes that people in Tuscaloosa have enough nostalgia for the car to pitch in and help with restoration efforts. He’s looking for corporate sponsors, private citizens or anyone in the automotive industry who could donate parts or labor.

    “We think it would cost around $20,000 to get it back to its glory days,” he said. “It’s been relegated to the boneyard and I hate to see that.”

    The car has an interesting history. It was seized in the early 1990s from Marion Dudley, who was later put to death in Texas for killing four people, including a pregnant woman, during a drug deal.

    Like the Charger, the Corvette was used as a public relations tool for the department.

    “People like cars. We’re an automotive-centric society,” he said. “People can relate to something that looks really cool.”

    The car was a good icebreaker for D.A.R.E. officers visiting schools where children had either no experience with police officers or had only been around them during a bad situation. Many children are even taught to fear police, he said.

    “I call the cars mechanical ambassadors. This gives us an opportunity to talk with people in a stress-free environment,” he said.

    Anyone who wants to assist can call Fourt at 205-248-4651 or email at rfourt@tuscaloosa.com.

    Reach Stephanie Taylor at stephanie.taylor@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0210.
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