Austin police said one officer sickened by the carbon monoxide issue with their Ford Explorers has returned to the force on limited duty while two others are still off duty.
And it’s because of the new situation that Austin officers have had to double-up in patrol cars. APD swapped out their SUV fleets with over 200 existing cars, like the Crown Victoria.
"We have the manpower, it's just the matter of moving it around and we gotten through it pretty well last few days,” Senior Police Officer Thomas Hayes said.
Still, Hayes says having two officers on one call could potentially become a setback.
"I guess it has the propensity where it could create an issue with 'are we able to go to this high priority call here, where we are stuck over here on this one?'” he said.
That's why they are making small changes to how they respond to calls.
“If you had a burglary that has been sitting a couple of days and the person just came home and said 'Hey, I need to make a report.' [We] kind of let those hang a little bit longer because we have to be available for those higher priority calls,” Hayes added.
APD feels it’s an adjustment they will have to get used to for the time being, but they are still committed to performing their best with the resources and tools they have.
"The community shouldn't worry that when you call 911, you're going to have to wait an exorbitant amount of time. If you have an emergency, we will get to you,” Senior Officer Christopher Irwin said.
Officers say despite the switch, there is a silver lining.
"It's given us the opportunity to get out with the community more and be able to have more conversation,” Hayes said.
Many more officers will now be patrolling on bikes, ATVs and on foot, offering more police visibility to help create a stronger line of communication.
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