APD chief considering actions after suspected patrol car poisoning


11 a.m. update: Interim Police Chief Brian Manley said he is now looking into buying carbon monoxide detectors for patrol units after an Austin police sergeant nearly passed out early Saturday while driving a vehicle that may have released the dangerous gas inside the cabin.

“I am aware of the incident and concerned about the safety of our officers. We will be taking immediate steps to address this concern,” Manley said.

The detectors would be used “until we can come to a resolution with Ford on this issue,” Manley said.

BE THE FIRST TO KNOW: When big news breaks, we send Breaking News emails. Click to sign up

The chief said the sergeant “felt the symptoms coming on and called for help.”

He said in recent weeks, after learning of a possible issue involving police SUVs, the department had notified officers to be aware of the concern.

Earlier: An Austin police sergeant nearly passed out while driving a Ford Explorer that officials think may have released carbon monoxide gas into the passenger compartment, officials said Saturday.

The officer was taken by ambulance to a hospital and was later released after what authorities describe as a possible vehicle malfunction.

A police spokesman said the incident happened just after midnight in Southwest Austin. The officer was not responding to a call at the time.

“This very well could have been a traffic fatality with the officer passing out behind the wheel,” union president Ken Casaday said. “At a time when we are fighting an uptick in violent crime, this is just one more huge concern that officers have on a daily basis.”

According to Casaday, city mechanics had recently taken the unit out of service to determine whether it was releasing gases after other officers reported a suspicious odor. He said the cruiser was then placed back in service.

The Ford SUVs have been under national scrutiny for the release of possible poisonous gas.

According to published reports, the issues concern Explorers made between 2011 and 2015 and gases are most likely to be released when the car is accelerating or when the air conditioning is on.

In one case that has received recent national attention, Newport Beach, Calif., police officer claims he was severely injured when he crashed his patrol unit into a light pole. He has said medical doctors could find no other reason for the crash.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Austin ISD adopts 2018-19 school calendar. Here’s what changed
Austin ISD adopts 2018-19 school calendar. Here’s what changed

The Austin district board Monday night approved the 2018-19 school calendar, and students will attend school one less day than this year. Here are the highlights: • Students will be back in class Monday, Aug. 20, but summer will come early as they get out May 24, 2019, the Friday before Memorial Day. • Students will attend school 176 days...
Car strikes motorcyclist, SUV then runs over motorcycle; both flee, police say 
Car strikes motorcyclist, SUV then runs over motorcycle; both flee, police say 

Austin police are looking for two drivers who left the scene of a hit-and-run early Sunday after the first one struck a motorcyclist and the second one ran over the victim’s motorcycle.   The motorcyclist was heading north on South Congress Avenue about 2 a.m. when someone driving a black Lexus in the opposite direction hit him while...
Group takes aim at Austin schools with names tied to Confederacy
Group takes aim at Austin schools with names tied to Confederacy

Days after one Austin district trustee was criticized for publicly calling out his peers for delaying a vote on changing school names with ties to the Confederacy, more than a dozen community members Monday night announced the creation of a work group to push the changes forward. The group of 15, formed by the East Austin Coalition for Quality Education...
Austin-area federal employees expected to return to work Tuesday
Austin-area federal employees expected to return to work Tuesday

As the federal government shutdown rolled into Monday — the only business day of the three-day closure — calls to affected Austin-area agencies went unanswered, building doors were locked and employees stayed home. At Fort Hood, 40 percent of about 6,000 civilian employees were told to not come into work. When reached by cell phone, Christopher...
New panel launching effort to identify Texas school finance fix
New panel launching effort to identify Texas school finance fix

Two years after the Texas Supreme Court suggested sweeping reforms to the school finance system, a newly formed state commission will hold the first of several meetings Tuesday in an effort to find a fix to the system by the end of December. The 13-member Texas Commission on Public School Finance, composed of school district officials, lawmakers and...
More Stories