Following carbon monoxide concerns, the Austin Police Department is putting close to 50 of its police SUVs back on the road following repairs.
This comes after APD pulled all of its Ford Explorer Police Interceptors from its fleet back in July after there were concerns that carbon monoxide leaking into cabins, exposing at least five officers to the fumes.
"I still have two officers that are on a no-duty status and three that are on a limited duty status as a result of some of the issues," said APD Interim Police Chief Brian Manley.
A City of Austin employee said straight exhaust pipes and loose seals on the lift gates allowed carbon monoxide to leak into the cabin. Ford identified the problem, agreed to pay for repairs and contacted local dealerships to make them. Downward facing exhaust pipes to redirect the flow of fumes were installed, as well as carbon monoxide detectors.
"We have developed a protocol both at fleet and at APD to ensure the safety of the vehicles," said City of Austin Fleet Director Jennifer Walls.
Since September, the city's Fleet Services Department has been testing the repaired vehicles and now they've been cleared to be back on the road. The department hopes to have the rest of their fleet on the road in the next three to four months.
In the future the City of Austin reports it plans to look into diversifying APD's fleet by adding other vehicles into the mix. They haven't set a timeline yet on when that will happen.