Most right-minded people agree that the Ford Raptor is a sweet ride.
However, as much as I admire Fox Racing suspension components, flared fenders, and massive off-road tires, you've got to admit that the Raptor's talents are on the esoteric side. Off-roading is a pretty niche hobby in the first place (despite what Land Rover and Jeep would have you believe), and the F-150 SVT Raptor is designed for a specific kind of off-roading-high-speed desert-running. And who really does that on a regular basis?
The U.S. Border Patrol, that's who. Most of the U.S./Mexico border is an arbitrary line across the desert, and we haven't gotten around to paving much of it. Which means that the people tasked with patrolling that border are basically professional off-roaders. They might see pavement in the morning when they leave the house and again when they head home, but in the interim they're driving across dunes, hard-packed sand, and dry riverbeds -- basically prerunning the Baja 1000, 365 days a year. These people need Raptors.
Unfortunately for them, they don't have any. Yet. Without getting into the arcane details of government procurement procedures, it seems that there was some kind of a problem with the Raptor's leather interior -- the gub'mint couldn't buy trucks with fancy cowskins inside, and Ford didn't build Raptors any other way. They got the situation resolved, and a batch of Raptors are destined for the Border Patrol. But the Yuma County Sheriff's Department is one step ahead.
Soon after the Raptor hit the street, Major Leon Wilmot of the Yuma County SD caught a look at it running Baja on TV. "I said, 'We've got to get one of those,' " Wilmot recalls. So he wrassled up some Department of Homeland Security dollars through a program called Operation Stonegarden and made it happen. The Yuma sector of the U.S. Border Patrol has six more Raptors on the way, but at the moment, the Yuma sheriff has the only one, the baddest police truck north of San Luis Río Colorado.
Which is actually where I find myself at the moment, driving beside the longest fence you've ever seen, accompanied by Wilmot and a former narcotics officer named Jimmy. I'd contacted Wilmot a few weeks before to see if I could accompany the Yuma police Raptor on desert border patrol. In the interim, Arizona passed a mildly controversial immigration law that you may have heard about. So it's an interesting time to be on border patrol in Arizona.