Blue in Blue

Officer Sergio Cordova and the Police Department's new blue Mustang.

Driving the El Paso Police Department's newest 420-horsepower 2012 Ford Mustang, while certainly fun, requires a sense of humor.

He's only been driving the somewhat stealthy car for two months, but Officer Sergio Cordova has enough stories for a stand-up comedy act.

"I had one kid race me who said I couldn't give him a ticket because he beat me," Cordova says.

Then there's the driver of a 2004 gray Mustang GT that blew by Cordova at 98 mph, wanting to race, not realizing Cordova was a cop.

"After we did a mile, and I had hit the lights, he began slamming his fists against the dashboard because he knew what had just happened," Cordova says.

The new blue Mustang with its $41,000 price tag is one of a baker's dozen of vehicles the department uses mostly to catch speeders along Interstate 10.

But they're also used for school zone enforcement. And while using a car that goes from 0 to 60 in five seconds for that purpose might seem a little like overkill, Cordova says it works because they go unnoticed while parked on the side of the road.

That's because the police lights are mounted in the car's front grille and windshield, and the only police markings are the stylized "City of El Paso Police Department Traffic Enforcement" text on the side of the car and the windshield.

Officers call the department's 13 Mustangs "Road Rage" cars because their stealthiness allows officers to watch drivers do things they would never do in front of one of the department's 300 more conspicuous white patrol cars.

"So you actually get to see a lot of people do a lot of their bad habits," Cordova says, "You'll see people on their cell phones; you'll see people trying to put on makeup, eating, wildly reaching for something. You get all the gesturing."

Who's blue

The department got its first Mustang a decade ago, and while they have many different colors, there is a debate about the color of their newest car. Some call it baby blue, some say sky blue or M&M blue. But Richard Petty blue seems to be the winning pick.

Cordova has been with EPPD for 17 years and has worked as a freeway officer for almost 10.

But he got his start with EPPD's metro section in something a bit more modest than a muscle car - a little three-wheeled vehicle used for parking enforcement.

Next he drove a Ford Focus while investigating car accidents. And what he saw inspired him to take on freeway enforcement.

"A lot of us do it because of what we have seen on the job. I mean, I've seen fatalities, people getting hit by trailers, getting split in half, there was a child who got run over by grandma," Cordova says.

"The reason we are here is to prevent, and if we make you think and double check your driving habits, we are doing our job," he said.

The assignment does have its mundane moments, Cordova admits, like sitting by the side of the road, so not everyone is clamoring to do it. But he likes the perks.

"Where else are you going to get paid to drive a high-performance car at a high speed?" Cordova says.

Then there are the smart-aleck remarks.

"Oh, I've gotten everything from what an ugly color to what a pretty color, can I drive it, where did you get it, is that where our money goes?" he says. All in the past two months.

Some drivers who meet Cordova will insist the Mustang is not a police car, even after they are pulled over. He gently suggests they call El Paso Police Headquarters to confirm.

If you really want to meet Officer Cordova and his Mustang, we hear your best chances are on Interstate 10 between the Airway and Schuster exits, on the Border Highway between Santa Fe and Fonseca, or on U.S. 54 from where it starts by the Bridge of the Americas all the way to Railroad Drive.


E-mail El Paso Inc. reporter Robert Gray at rsgray@elpasoinc.com or call (915) 534-4422 ext. 105.

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