Austin is trying to unravel a mystery — why are their police officers falling ill, and is the sickness related to the Ford Explorer SUVs they drive?
The Austin-American Statesman reports that five police officers fell ill over a four-day span and have been treated at emergency rooms when they experienced symptoms that could be linked to carbon monoxide poisoning. The officers, the Statesman said, were treated after they complained of symptoms such as dizziness, headaches and nausea.
Now, Austin authorities have removed 40 Ford Explorer SUVs from service, and are considering taking the emergency measure of renting replacement vehicles until they can determine the SUVs are safe.
Authorities said that in each of the recent cases, carbon monoxide detectors sounded and alerted officers to the possible presence of the gas.
“Right now they have not made any determination as to the cause of this particular issue,” Assistant Police Chief Troy Gay said, as quoted by the Statesman. “Our department is going to be proactive on making immediate decisions as to what is best for our department.”
The first incident happened in March, when a sergeant reported he almost passed out while on patrol. He’s still on medical leave, the Statesman reported.
Ford has said that “In rare circumstances, there have been instances where customers detected an exhaust odor in Explorers.”