City of Austin exploring option of pulling all Ford Explorers from fleet

The City of Austin is considering pulling all Ford Explorers from their fleet because of an ongoing carbon monoxide issue. The SUV's make up more than half of the police department's vehicles.

"That's an issue of great interest right now and we are working on a collaborative approach with the city leaders.”

Breaking the silence after couple weeks Austin Police Department Interim Chief Brian Manley gave an update on the carbon monoxide issues plaguing his department.

Chief Manley said they are working on a plan if that does happen.

“We are not at a point yet to roll that out, cause we are still finishing that plan and when we do we will actually come back out and announce to the media, to the community, where we are at with the plan and what the implications will be and what the roll out will look like."

Asst. Chief Troy Gay said this was the worst case scenario at a press conference July 14th. 

He said then they were already making sure they would have enough vehicles for officers. He said officers would double up in cars, and patrol officers could use detective cars, detectives would then get rental cars.

APD said the detective cars are pursuit ready, but decals would need to be added and laptops installed.

This comes as both Ford and NHTSA, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are in town working with the City of Austin, inspecting the SUV’s in question.

An investigation attorney Brian Chase out of California said he wanted to be involved, “I wish they would've invited me to those inspections so I could have my own independent engineers watch what's going on.” Chase now represents multiple officers in a lawsuit against Ford Motor Company, including two Austin Police Officers, and is in talks with a third, “It's only a matter of time before those officer kills themselves or one of us,” he said.

Ford has said it believes post-delivery modifications made to these police interceptors may be the cause, but Chase disagrees. “I know there story is completely false or only a half truth. I represent people driving ordinary everyday Ford Explorers on the street that are not police interceptor vehicles and they have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning. I know they have created this problem and known about it for at least five years, so I have no problem pointing the finger at them.”

It is not clear yet how long NHTSA and Ford will be in Austin, they extended their stay past the first half of the week to continue investigating. The Ford Motor Company released the following statement: 

Safety is our top priority. A dedicated Ford team is working with police customers, police equipment installers, Police Advisory Board members and NHTSA to investigate reported issues and solve them. Customers with concerns about Explorers and Police Interceptor Utilities can call our dedicated hotline at 888-260-5575 or visit their local Ford dealership.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also released a report regarding the investigation. It said in part: 

“To date, no substantive data or actual evidence (such as a carboxyhemoglobin measurement) has been obtained supporting a claim that any of the alleged injury or crash allegations were the result of carbon monoxide poisoning, the alleged hazard. ODI has obtained preliminary testing that suggests, however, that CO levels may be elevated in certain driving scenarios, although the significance and effect of those levels remains under evaluation as part of the EA.”

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