The Austin Police Department began downsizing its fleet from 400 vehicles to 200 in response to the dozens of Ford Police Interceptors found to be leaking carbon monoxide fumes, exposing dozens of officers.
The department had 397 of the interceptor vehicles in its fleet spread across four different substations in Austin. Assistant Chief Troy Gay was at the East substation early Saturday morning where officers began dropping off their SUVs, “There will be no interceptors that will be driven by the police department or other departments until this is resolved,” he said.
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This comes after the city has been dealing with a carbon monoxide issue in its Ford Explorers.
The police interceptor version of the SUV was hit the hardest.
Dozens of officers were found with measurable levels of the poisonous toxin in their systems, three are still not back to work because of the possible side effects.
Asst. Chief Gay said the SUVs are basically being gutted removing anything officers use for patrol. The equipment is either being stored or moved to the sedan type vehicles replacing the Ford Interceptors.
It was quite the sight Saturday evening seeing dozens of police vehicles lined up on a downtown street. A section of 8th was shut down for a couple hours as they started moving all the interceptors from APD Headquarters.
Ken Casaday is the President of the Austin Police Association and said the biggest change for officers will be sharing cars. “Once you get used to having your own car that can be an issue. A lot of officers enjoy being doubled up, and a lot don't. But their safety comes first and I have already expressed that to them, and I know there will be some people that will get upset having their vehicles taken from them that are take home, but that's too bad,” he said.
Asst. Chief Gay said while there won't be as many APD vehicles on the roads, they are still as prepared as they were before. “We deal with challenges each and every day, this is a new challenge for our department that will continue to monitor and make adjustments as necessary.”