Ford Motor Company is investigating reports that Ford Explorer police SUVs in Austin were leaking carbon monoxide gas, causing drivers to lose consciousness.
It turns out the Aransas Pass Police Department has seven of those Ford Explorers, but so far no carbon monoxide problems.
Unlike larger police departments, Aransas Pass Police Chief Eric Blanchard said Aransas Pass cannot afford to stop using the Explorers, so they found a quick and inexpensive solution nearby.
"It's paramount, the safety of my staff, the safety of my public, and not addressing a problem like this with these detectors or getting the vehicles off the street presents danger," Blanchard said.
Blanchard said when he heard the reports about the carbon monoxide poisonings involving Ford Explorer police interceptors, he knew it wouldn't be possible to take his off the streets. So instead he bought carbon monoxide detectors.
"We invested in about a box of these for seven of our units at a local hardware store," Blanchard said.
Still, he was skeptical, so naturally he tested them.
"Put them inside of a box and we cut a real tiny hole so it was hard for the gas to escape and let it sit in the box for a moment, and when it gathers to a poisoning level the alarm sounded and the device was working," Blanchard said.
As soon as Blanchard tested the carbon monoxide detectors, he went into all seven of the cars and placed them on the passengers-side behind the headrest.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Ford are still investigating and believe the cause of the leaks may be linked to after-market modifications to the SUVs by police departments.
Even though Aransas Pass police haven't experienced any carbon monoxide poisonings, Blanchard said it is better to be safe than sorry.
"We need to make sure that the prisoner is also safe, or if we're providing a courtesy escort, we want to make sure the people in our cars are safe as well," Blanchard said.
Ford released a statement last week saying Ford Explorer owners have no reason to be concerned because the carbon monoxide incidents were only found in police interceptor versions of the car.