GALVESTON - Yet another Texas police department is pulling its Ford Explorers off the road because of carbon monoxide concerns. On Tuesday, the city of Galveston chose to remove 32 of them from service across the city, including 27 that are used by the police department.
"Late Monday night one of our officers was experiencing headaches, some lightheadedness while sitting in one of the units," said Captain Joshua Schirard of the Galveston Police Department. "The officer was tested and found that they weren't experiencing any kind of carbon monoxide poisoning and didn't have any carbon monoxide in their system, but it did bring to light the issues with these vehicles."
Those issues have been documented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is in the middle of an investigation into carbon monoxide complaints surrounding model year 2011-2017 Ford Explorers. The investigation began over a year ago when there were 154 complaints filed. Since then that number has ballooned to 791. Many of those complaints have come from law enforcement agencies because Ford Explorers are a popular choice for patrol vehicles. However, many have parked the vehicles as a safety precaution.
Last week, the Austin Police Department pulled all of its 446 Ford Explorers off the road and, unlike Galveston, their officers have shown symptoms of carbon monoxide intoxication.
"Over the past five months we have had 62 workers compensation reports filed by officers for exposure to carbon monoxide," said Austin Police Chief Brian Manley.
Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday says it was the right decision.
"From what I understand these officers were tested and they had double and triple the amount of carbon monoxide in their system than they're supposed to have," said Casaday.
The decision left a shortage of cruisers for officers in Austin, so the department chose to double up officers in their remaining police vehicles. However, in Galveston, Captain Shirard says that won't be necessary.
"No officers will have to double up in the units, they will still operate just as they have," said Shirard. "To our citizens and guests, it's doubtful that any of them will actually notice any type of difference."
Two Ford technicians arrived in Galveston Thursday morning to begin working on the fleet. After getting feedback from the technicians, the city decided to put eight back into service starting on Friday. The other 19 will be evaluated by the city's fleet facility and will hit the streets once cleared. All 27 of them will be getting at least one safety upgrade.
"Before they get back on the line all of our vehicles will be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors just as another layer of safety," said Shirard.
For the officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect the Galveston community, it's good to see the city providing them some extra protection as well.