Local police monitoring chemical threat in vehicles

RILEY COUNTY, Kan. (KSNT) – You can’t see it, smell it or taste it and it’s affecting more than 1.3 million police officers across the country.

It’s carbon monoxide and it’s been leaking into one type of police vehicle.

In Riley County, 10 Ford Explorer police vehicles are currently being monitored for levels of the deadly gas.

About a year ago, one officer from a department near Wichita started smelling strange odors in his vehicle and later experienced fatigue. They later found high levels of the gas inside his vehicle.

Although no problems have been reported in Riley County, Richard Lewis, the maintenance supervisor for the Riley County Police Department said they’re taking extra precautions just to be safe.

“Any exchange of airflow is good. Getting out of the car routine times, even if it’s just to get out and walk and meet the community and talk to people. The more we exchange fresh air inside that car, the less potential we have for a problem,” Lewis said.

He also said a few of their Ford Explorer vehicles are used as K-9 units. He stressed the importance that it’s not only their officers who could be affected, but their canine officers too.

The department says it has carbon monoxide detectors on order and will continue to monitor the vehicles closely.

KSNT went digging for more information from Ford.

In an article posted on Government Fleet News, Ford says it’s investigation into the issue is ongoing. The company said it discovered holes and unsealed spaces in the back of some police interceptor utilities that had police equipment installed after leaving Ford’s factory.

However, Brian Bigenwalt, the Fleet Services Manager for the city of Topeka said, “the only holes that we put into the police interceptor SUV’s are on the roof and they are sealed to prevent water leaks.”

The problem is not affecting drivers of regular, non-police Ford Explorers.

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