The Austin (Texas) Police Department has purchased 400 carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in all of its patrol vehicles after an officer became ill from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The purchase was initially sparked by an ongoing investigation from the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) into Ford Explorers and Ford Police Interceptors over possible carbon monoxide leaks. Assistant Police Chief Ely Reyes said Austin PD has 362 Ford Police Interceptor Utilities in its fleet, and the agency has been working with the City of Austin's Fleet Services Department to identify a solution.
But the purchasing process was expedited after an incident last weekend, when an Austin Police sergeant reported feeling sick while driving his patrol car. He was taken to a hospital, where doctors found high levels of carbon monoxide in his body, according to KIDY.
In response to the incident, Ford has said:
"We take the safety of our customers very seriously. In rare circumstances, there have been instances where customers detected an exhaust odor in Explorers. While we believe this poses no safety risk, Ford just learned of the Austin Police Department report and has not had the opportunity to inspect this particular vehicle. Ford will work with the police department to investigate the issue. If customers have a concern with their vehicle, they are encouraged to contact their local Ford dealer."
Austin PD placed an order for electronic carbon monoxide detectors on Monday, which emit an audible alarm if carbon monoxide levels reach a certain threshold. When the detectors arrive, Reyes said installation is expected to take about three weeks.
In the meantime, the agency ordered stickers that change colors when carbon monoxide is detected. The stickers arrived Tuesday, and installation has already begun. The stickers have a useful life of 90 days, which should allow enough time for the electronic detectors to arrive and get installed across the fleet.