Carbon monoxide in police cruisers causes concern for local departments

- FILE - Fairfield Police Cruiser (WTNH)

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s a problem that is hitting departments all across the country. Carbon monoxide being detected inside the cabs of Ford Explorer Interceptors, causing several officers to become sick.

The issue affects model years from 2011-2017. Ford says they are investigating and claim the issues are caused from holes drilled into the back of the vehicles after they leave the factory.

Fairfield police started using the Ford SUV as their primary cruiser several years ago and their entire fleet falls into that category. They are among the first towns in Connecticut to install carbon monoxide detectors into the SUV’s as a precautionary measure.

“We put them in about two weeks ago and we have yet to have any incidents of carbon monoxide detection inside the vehicles but we look at it as a low cost option to keep our officers safe,” said Lieutenant Robert Kalamaras of the Fairfield Police Department.

Just last week, an officer in Auburn, Massachusetts passed out at the wheel and crashed. The department says tests showed CO inside both the car and the officer’s body. The department tested 20 of their Ford Explorers and 13 came back positive for high levels of carbon monoxide. 6 officers were also treated for CO poisoning after tests were done on everyone in the department.

Fairfield police say each detector cost about $35. The detectors are attached behind the driver’s seat using Velcro. The department policy is every officer must check that the detector is working before they hit the road each shift.

If the alarm goes off at any point during a shift the officers have been instructed to pull over, roll down the windows and call a supervisor.

“If there is carbon monoxide getting inside the vehicle you know we wanna keep them safe and make sure it’s detected before it gets inside the vehicle,” said Lieutenant Kalamaras.

Other departments looking into CO detectors include the Fairfield University Police, Milford, and Greenwich.

Ford released a statement on Thursday night saying, “Safety is our top priority. We continue to investigate. We have not found elevated levels of carbon monoxide in non-Police Ford Explorers. To address police customers who drive modified vehicles in unique ways, we are covering the costs of specific repairs in every Police Interceptor Utility that may have carbon monoxide concerns, regardless of modifications made after leaving Ford’s factory.”

 

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