Police try to prevent carbon monoxide issue in police SUVs

Police try to prevent carbon monoxide issue

Carbon monoxide is suspected to have sidelined officers and vehicles in Austin.

DeStoto Police Sergeant Nick Bristow want's to make sure that doesn't happen here in North Texas.

"We're not only worried about the safety of the officers while they're operating these vehicles, but also the motoring public as well," Bristow said.

The DeSoto Police Department has placed carbon monoxide detectors inside their Ford SUVs.

"We need to keep these vehicles on the road, and I think purchasing that carbon monoxide detector was a good first step in keeping our officers safe."

The harmful gas usually works its way into the cabin of a vehicle through a faulty exhaust system.

"We're going to install those detectors and keep them in the car until ford figures out exactly what is going on with them," Bristow said.

Ford has not claimed responsibility for the incidents but does say the issue is isolated to specialty SUVs produced for law enforcement.

In a written statement posted to its website, Ford claims that " aftermarket modifications" can can create an opening "where exhaust could enter the cabin."

"If you are the driver of a non-police ford explorer, there is no reason to be concerned," said Hau Thai-Tang of Ford in a video posted to the companies website.

Ford claims to have a 61 percent market share among law enforcement. WFAA checked with dozens of departments across North Texas and found that 13 reported at least one Ford SUV in its fleet. Of those departments, seven of them say they've installed carbon monoxide detectors out of an abundance of caution. None of these department report any health complaints from officers.

"I think that having the detectors on board certainly brings a sense of relief that we're doing something to monitor our vehicles to make sure that our officers aren't coming down with the same symptoms," said Lt. Colin Chenault of the Cedar Hill Police Department.

While Ford isn't admitting fault, the company is offering to cover the cost and repairs to every Police Interceptor Utility that may have this problem.

"The scary part is that it's odorless, it's colorless and really it can take effect a physiological effect on your body before you even know that anything is happening," Bristow said.

A problem that won't be detected unless an alarm is triggered or at worst, an officer gets sick. 

© 2018 WFAA-TV


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