HOUSTON - Sources told Channel 2 that a Houston police officer was driving a 2016 Ford Police Interceptor, which now sits in the northwest substation, before he was sent to Memorial City Hermann Hospital after experiencing drowsiness and headaches, similar symptoms of exposure to carbon monoxide.
"Out of an abundance of caution, they sent him to the hospital to be checked out. I talked to him a few minutes ago, he's fine. They released him from the hospital," Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officers' Union, said.
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In the meantime, the officer's SUV is no longer on the streets and has since been pulled from service.
"He'd been having headaches for a while and sleepy when driving the vehicle. Took a vacation for about a week and didn't have that problem. Came back and he had it again and he reported it to his supervisor," Hunt said.
"We've already pulled the car out of service. We're obviously going to inspect it to make sure we have no problems," Chief Art Acevedo, with the Houston Police Department, said.
The incident comes only weeks after the very same SUV at other police departments were pulled over concerns about carbon monoxide.
Last month, the Austin Police Department announced it was removing nearly 400 Ford Explorers from the streets after dozens of officers reported carbon-monoxide exposure.
"We don't have that luxury here. We're already double-manned units so, we aren't able to take those vehicles offline or we simply wouldn't be able to respond to calls," Hunt said.
For now, the police chief said in addition to inspecting the officers specific SUV in this incident, they'll continue checking the others.
"I want to make sure people don't start thinking that all these cars are falling apart. We have been testing them, we haven't had a problem yet. But we already have that car offline, we're testing it and we'll report back," Acevedo said.
Ford released a statement to KPRC2 Tuesday morning that read:
"Safety is our top priority. We continue to investigate. We have not found elevated levels of carbon monoxide in non-Police Ford Explorers. To address police customers who drive modified vehicles in unique ways, we are covering the costs of specific repairs in every Police Interceptor Utility that may have carbon monoxide concerns, regardless of modifications made after leaving Ford’s factory.
"If a customer believes their vehicle may be experiencing an issue, they should bring it to a Ford dealer for inspection. Customers also can call a dedicated hotline at 888-260-5575."
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