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

MONDAY NIGHT: SWAT standoff ends in Northeast Austin
MONDAY NIGHT: SWAT standoff ends in Northeast Austin

A SWAT standoff at a Northeast Austin house has ended, police said.  Police got a call about a disturbance at 7:56 p.m. in the 1100 block of Murron Drive. Police have taken the man who was inside the house into custody, police said.  Police declined to release further details about the SWAT standoff. 
Alleged car thief in Florida stops to buy welder’s mask to watch eclipse
Alleged car thief in Florida stops to buy welder’s mask to watch eclipse

The solar eclipse transfixed the nation Monday, from Donald Trump at the White House, to ordinary citizens across the country taking time out of their jobs to stop and view the celestial show. But perhaps it's best not to become too distracted by the eclipse, especially when you're being tailed by police, as one 22-year-old found out in Central...
Black Pflugerville group aims to combat local racism
Black Pflugerville group aims to combat local racism

More than 50 people gathered on Monday night at Abundant Life Church for a Black Pflugerville monthly community meeting, which aims to combat racism locally but focused on healing this time after the recent Charlottesville, Va., white supremacist rally that left three people dead and dozens injured. “Pflugerville is a growing and culturally diverse...
What is Trump’s plan for Afghanistan?
What is Trump’s plan for Afghanistan?

President Donald Trump spoke to the nation from Fort Myer on Monday night. “I am here tonight to lay out our path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia,” he said.  The United States “must seek an honorable and enduring outcome” worthy of the sacrifices that have been made. The consequences of a rapid exit are “both...
BASTROP FIRE: Royal Pines Fire now 100 percent contained
BASTROP FIRE: Royal Pines Fire now 100 percent contained

The Royal Pines fire near Bastrop is now 100 percent contained, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.  Officials declared the fire contained at 7 p.m., according to the Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management. Expect smoke to linger in the area for a few more days. Crews will continue patrolling the area. The fire, which started around...
More Stories