A little over three dozen Ford Explorer city vehicles are back in service after being removed following a series of reported carbon monoxide leaks, causing the hospitalizations of four Austin police officers.
In a release, the City of Austin said the 44 vehicles cleared for use were among 439 taken out of service in July.
Following the incidents where officers were sickened, local Ford dealerships took in the vehicles to address the possible carbon monoxide issues and paid for all of the repairs. The city said after the vehicles were examined by Ford, the Fleet Services Department and Austin police officers also conducted 20 hours of testing on their own to ensure there wouldn't be future problems.
As for the remaining vehicles still being examined, the city said it could take months before those vehicles are returned to officers and other city workers.
“As we receive the vehicles back from Ford we will continue to test and monitor these vehicles closely,” said Jennifer Walls, Fleet Services Officer. “Throughout this process, our priority has been the health and safety of our City employees and we are grateful to them for their patience and understanding while we worked to get this issue resolved.”
As of noon, Nov. 29, 18 vehicles are currently in the testing cycle.
"As the repaired vehicles come back to the department we will work out how to re-deploy them and how best to start returning officers to one-person patrols. It will be some time before we have the entire fleet back," said Austin Police Chief Brian Manley.