The hearse, which is detailed with graphics depicting how dangerous the drug can be, was recently purchased by the sheriff’s office. Walker County Sheriff John Mark Tirey said the vehicle has already turned several heads across the county and has been a focal point at several recent festivals and parades.
“We’ve taken the hearse several places so far, and I’ve noticed the looks that it gets,” he said. “People will get a glance of it and then do a double take. It catches your attention.”
Tirey said the car has already served as an icebreaker between law enforcement and citizens.
“They’ll see it, and then automatically they start asking questions about it,” he said. “That leads us to talking about meth and how dangerous it can be. I guess it’s kind of morbid, but the meth problem is morbid. It causes a lot of death, even here in our own county. We want people to see the hearse and translate meth to death.”
Tirey said the hearse was the brainchild of Walker County Narcotics Enforcement Team member Chuck Tidwell.
“I had seen some other sheriff’s offices across the country do this type of things,” Tidwell said. “I did some research to see how much it might cost to put one together. I think it’s going to be a great tool, especially in talking to kids about the dangers of meth.”
Tirey said the sheriff’s office has about $4,000 invested in the 1995 model hearse.
“Between purchasing the vehicle and putting the graphics on it, that’s about how much we have in it,” he said. “It’s in excellent shape, and I think it is well worth that amount of money. If we can use it to keep a young person off drugs, it’s worth is priceless to me.”
Tidwell said he has driven the hearse to several community events and in Walker High School’s homecoming parade.
“It’s a little creepy to begin with,” he said. “We’ve even got a real casket in it that someone donated to us. I’ve enjoyed taking out so far. It gives us a good opportunity to educate the public.”
Tirey said the sheriff’s office and the NET Unit are currently working on developing educational programs to use with the vehicle.
“We can use it in conjunction with our DARE program, but we also want to develop something that focuses more on meth,” he said. “We will be taking the hearse to area schools and we are open to bringing it to any church or civic groups that might be interested in hearing a program on drugs.”
For more information on the vehicle, contact the Walker County NET Unit at 205-384-7255.