Austin Considers Pulling Ford Explorer Police Cruisers Off The Road

AUSTIN, Texas (CBSNews) — The state capital of Texas is considering pulling its police department’s entire fleet of Ford Explorer SUVs off the road.

More than 120 are already out of service.

Sgt. Zachary LaHood is one of 18 Austin police officers who have been treated for carbon monoxide exposure after driving the department’s Ford Explorers.

“I don’t remember if we hit a curb or if my head just hit the window and it woke me up but I remember swerving to miss a head-on collision,” LaHood said.

He is now suing Ford.

Austin police believe exhaust that contains potentially deadly carbon monoxide is seeping into the police cruisers. The city has now installed carbon monoxide detectors in all 439 of its Explorers.

In California, a police officer appeared to pass out behind the wheel of his Explorer and slammed into a tree. Since that crash, departments across the country had installed carbon monoxide detectors in their cruisers, including the Kansas Highway Patrol, where one-third of the explorers patrolling the state turnpike have registered high levels of carbon monoxide.

“We want to make sure that we’re confident that we’re giving our people equipment that they can get home safe at the end of the day” said KHP Lt. John Lehnherr.

Federal regulators say they are investigating the problem, but have offered no updates in over a year. The National Association of Police Organizations sought answers in March, but said Ford never responded.

But the automaker has known about the issue since at least 2012.

In a statement Thursday (July 27), Ford said safety is its “top priority.”

“A dedicated Ford team is working with police customers, police equipment installers, Police Advisory Board members and NHTSA to investigate reported issues and solve them,” the statement said. “Customers with concerns about Explorers and Police Interceptor Utilities can call our dedicated hotline or visit their local Ford dealership.”