High School Auto Body Students Boost Tucson Police Lowrider

The lowrider, a former patrol car, is being restored in phases as the police department raises money through donations and car show fundraisers.

Photo by Claire Graham, KGUN 9 News.

Students in the auto body program at Sunnyside High School in Tucson, AZ, teamed up with local police to give a beloved lowrider a significant upgrade, reported KGUN 9 News.

"We're collaborating with the community and everybody benefits," Chad Kasmar, Tucson's police chief, told the news outlet.

The lowrider, which has been a part of the police department for years, previously underwent transformations including new hydraulics, a revamped interior, and enhanced aesthetics, all funded through donations and not taxpayer money. The current phase of the project, led by the students under the guidance of veteran teacher Armando Escalante, focuses on body work repairs.

"We're basically doing paint prep," Kasmar explained. "I mean, this was a patrol car, so there are dents and dings and cracks. Some of those you have to put a body filler in, and that's effectively what everybody's working on."

The initiative provides students with hands-on experience, allowing them to apply their skills in a real-world scenario, all while instructing some of the city's police officers. "They're telling me what to do, and they have no idea who I am, which is awesome," Kasmar added.

Alexa Lizarraga, a 20-year-old senior in the auto body class, took a leadership role in the project. Having grown up around body shops, Lizarraga felt comfortable guiding the police officers through the process. "It's a really good experience, because they teach us things as we teach them things," she said.

The project acts as a conduit for dialogue and understanding between students and law enforcement. As they work on the lowrider, conversations naturally flow about personal and professional interests, further bonding the two groups.

Looking ahead, Tucson police plan to complete the paint job and showcase the car at local events and car shows, continuing to use the lowrider as a tool for community engagement.

"Tucson is just such an amazing place to live, work, and play," Kasmar remarked. "And this is how we do it."

Those interested in supporting this ongoing project can make contributions by reaching out to the Tucson Police Department, which continues to fund the lowrider through community donations and car show fundraisers.

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