- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 14, 2014

BEND, Ore. (AP) - Former Bend Police Chief Jeff Sale is no longer employed by the department, but one of his legacies will live on: the giant car grill known informally as the “Car-B-Que.”

“It’s a good civic outreach tool for the police department,” said interim Chief Jim Porter. “It lets people see a side of a police officer that they don’t always get to see.”

The Bend Police Department’s car barbecue, a former Cheney, Wash., police patrol car that was gutted and converted into a barbecue, first appeared in Bend in summer 2012.

The hood pops up to reveal a grill, while the inside of the car contains a meat smoker. The car barbecue is a project that Sale, with other members of the Cheney Police Department, came up with as a way to engage the community when Sale was chief there.

Sale was fired from the Bend Police Department in January, shortly after Lt. Chris Carney resigned in the wake of a sex scandal.

Rick Campbell, the current commander of the Cheney Police Department, said the car grill used to be a patrol car that was taken off the vehicle line when a new motor caused the transmission to go bad. The car sat in the department’s surplus until 2009.

“We were drinking coffee one rainy day, trying to figure out what to do with it,” Campbell said. “(Sale) started talking about this barbecue class he’d gone to, and we started thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we took this patrol car and turned it into a barbecue?’”

The department went ahead with the plan and sent the car to Spokane Community College, where students stripped it down to its frame in return for the car’s engine. From there, a local metal worker installed the grill and meat smoker. Altogether, Campbell said, the project cost the department about $10,000, paid for by grants.

Campbell said the large car grill became a mainstay at community events, and that during the town’s annual Jubilee event in July, it was used in a barbecue cook-off that acted as a qualification round for a regional barbecue contest.

When Sale was hired as Bend police chief in 2011 and he left Cheney, he borrowed the car barbecue for a few Bend events, Campbell said. Sale eventually decided to bring the car grill out to Bend permanently. Campbell said Bend purchased it from the city of Cheney for about $7,500.

Porter said Sale secured all of the financing for the grill through grants and sponsors, although he didn’t know specifics about it.

Since arriving in Bend, the car barbecue was repainted to look like a Bend police patrol car, and the department uses it at community events in the summer. It’s appeared at events such as Bite of Bend and has acted as a vehicle for fundraising for local nonprofits. Department volunteers sold burgers grilled in the Car-B-Que at the Flashback Car Cruz last year, raising $2,400 for Central Oregon Veterans Outreach.

Though Sale is no longer police chief, Porter said the car grill will still be used by the department at several community events, such as Bend Summer Festival, throughout the grilling season. The biggest challenge, Porter said, has been to find enough officers and community volunteers to man it.

“Our chief (Sale) had a passion for it,” Porter said.

In Cheney, Campbell said, there are many in the police department who take a sentimental view of their old Car-B-Que. “It was a rainstorm, coffee, camaraderie kind of thing,” said Campbell. “There are a couple guys who miss it that, if it ever came back on the block, would want to buy it back.”

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