Every time he hits the road in his patrol car — a white 1993 Mustang with Bomb Pop blue letters — the trooper knows just what’s going to happen.
“It’s a head-turner,” Charlie Cook says. “Five or 10 people stop me and want to ask questions or take pictures with it.”
They ask Trooper Cook whether the Mustang is a real patrol car. (Yes.)
They ask if they can take a photo. (Sure.)
They ask if he drew the short end of the stick when they handed out patrol cars.
“I’ve always loved Mustangs,” the 22-year Nebraska State Patrol veteran said Monday. “I didn’t realize myself there was such a huge, huge following for that kind of style.”
He found out just how huge when he took a photo of the car — one of about 15,000 cars Ford made especially for law enforcement — assisting on a traffic stop.
The photo has been viewed a million times on the patrol’s Facebook page, attracted 1,000 comments and was given a viral boost in a blog post by Road and Track, where the writer called it a “highway chase car,” gushing about the 5.0-liter, V-8-powered engine, the car’s “heavy-duty suspension, strengthened floor pans and a certified calibrated speedometer.”
— Road & Track (@RoadandTrack) May 16, 2019
Most of the five-speed, Fox-body Special Service Package Mustangs that once covered the country’s highways have all but disappeared, he wrote. “But at least one remains in service.”
The one in Lincoln, Nebraska.
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The Mustang had been in storage, Cook said. Then, a few years back, the patrol decided to pull it out and dust it off.
“State headquarters encouraged me to get it out there in the public eye.”
In his role as a community service trooper, Cook drives to safety demonstrations and schools, recruitment fairs and career fairs.
Sometimes, the car travels the state to star in small-town parades. Come winter, it goes back in the garage.
And although he will assist a trooper on a call, Cook will not pull you over for speeding.
“People think it’s a police impersonator.”
The Mustang is small. Almost no trunk space. No room in back for transport. “They cuffed you up in the passenger seat.”
It does have lights and sirens and a working patrol radio.
The Facebook post featuring Cook’s car is still getting some attention, but it’s not the patrol’s most popular, said Cody Thomas, patrol public relations director.
That honor goes to a post from last winter, when a Chadron trooper came across a snow sculpture of a car built to scale. He took a photo and shot a video.
“He went up and put a fake citation on it,” Thomas said. “The post had a reach of over 5 million.”
The snow sculpture did have something in common with Trooper Cook’s cool car, though.
It appeared to be a Mustang.