Police officers are now concerned about a new, silent, odorless threat affecting officers nationwide. This summer, law enforcement officials across the country have voiced concerns regarding carbon monoxide fume emissions in their Ford Explorer Police Interceptor models.
Since late July, officers from one state after another have filed complaints to Ford concerning their police SUVs. Finally, after three officers were admitted to hospitals for high carbon monoxide levels early this month in Auburn, Massachusetts, Ford dispatched five teams of investigators to help police departments deal with exhaust fumes.
In a similar case, the Austin, Texas police department pulled nearly 400 vehicles off the road last month after 60 officers reported health issues. Currently, Ford’s team is looking into and repairing the affected vehicles.
Police departments in Kansas, Vermont, Washington, Maryland, and New Hampshire have also reported similar issues to those in Massachusetts and Texas. Ford has established a hotline dedicated to taking complaints of this type. Police Interceptor owners who are having this issue should call (888) 260-5575.
While these complaints are still being investigated, the problem has been blamed on holes and unsealed spaces in the back of some Interceptor vehicles, according to a Ford statement.
“When a police or fire department routinely install[s] customized emergency lighting, radios and other equipment, they have to drill wiring access holes into the rear of the vehicle,” the statement read. “If the holes are not properly sealed, it creates an opening where exhaust could enter the cabin.”
However, the carmaker is not recalling these vehicles. Instead, Ford will cover costs of any necessary Interceptor repairs, regardless of age, mileage, or aftermarket modifications made after purchase.
Earlier this month, Ford investigators visited more than a dozen departments, according to Chief Engineer for Ford’s Explorer line, Bill Gubing. So far, these investigators have sealed open holes in the Auburn, MA vehicles and the department has placed them back on the road.
The Department confirmed on Facebook, “The Auburn Police Department is happy to report that we believe the carbon monoxide issue we have recently experienced with our Ford police cruisers is believed to have been corrected by Ford engineers and mechanics from the Auburn DPW… The modifications included removing exterior aftermarket emergency lighting as well as sealing the taillight wiring areas and replacing the rear spoiler clips.”
This problem specifically affects the law enforcement vehicles, Ford officials wrote. Though there have been reports of exhaust odors in some regular Explorers, that issue is unrelated to what police officers are experiencing. Ford plans to further investigate both problems.
The automaker’s quick response may have something to do with the fact that the Ford Explorer makes up more than half of all U.S. police vehicle sales. What’s more, Ford has been a leading carmaker for law enforcement for 70 years.
“By no means is our investigation complete,” Gubing said. “We’re doing everything we can to figure out what issues are out there and how we can help.”