The Austin Police Department said Ford has completed repairs on a handful of vehicles that were removed from service in July because of carbon monoxide concerns.
APD pulled almost 400 Ford Explorers and Utility Interceptors from service after dozens tested positive for dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
“We currently have four officers that are on a no-duty status right now linked to expected exposure to carbon monoxide,” said Interim police Chief Brian Manley with the Austin Police Department.
For about the last month, Ford has been working to identify and repair any issues that could have led to carbon monoxide leaks.
The police department said while they are just days away from getting the first ten of those cars back, it will likely be several months before the full fleet is in service.
Since July, Austin police officers have been making do with older vehicles they normally wouldn't use for everyday patrol.
“The city's fleet division did some work on those, made sure they were up to par, and we put those vehicles back in service,” Manley said.
Ford agreed to fix the issues after an inspection by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
APD said the leaks were likely caused when vehicles were outfitted with new technology.
“I actually want to thank Ford for taking the aggressive steps that they took, sending their engineers to Austin and working with the local dealerships in coming up with a solution,” said Manley.
A handful of the troubled cars will return to APD in the coming days after being repaired at local dealerships.
“We expect to get the first ten vehicles back next Monday. These vehicles have been sent out to a Ford dealership and they have conducted the necessary repairs on these vehicles and we're being told they are actually back to standard and they're safe to use again,” Manley said.
The city isn't going to risk the health of their officers until they are certain the cars are no longer leaking carbon monoxide. They will spend at least a week running their own tests on each Ford Explorer and Utility Interceptor.
“If we do get the same results that they have, then, at that point, we will begin working through repairing the remaining fleet of almost 400 vehicles,” said Manley.
APD said since removing the Ford vehicles from service and doubling up officers in each car, response times to priority-one calls have increased by about 30 seconds.
“We stated from the beginning that we knew that there might be impacts to our response times as well as some of the other metrics that we track,” Manley said.
If all goes according to plan, Manley expects to have 20 Fords fixed per week and the entire fleet could be back in service in about five months.
The police department said they will be purchasing instruments to test the air quality in each vehicle so they can regularly check to make sure the repairs are holding.