HICKORY, N.C. -- Despite a looming investigation into the safety of the vehicles, a local police department is about to spend almost $250,000 to buy more of the questionable cars.
It is the Ford Explorer Interceptor, one of the thousands of Ford Explorers across the country that are a part of an ongoing investigation.
“This is one of the cars that agencies have concerns about,” Hickory police captain Vidal Sipe says.
The national Highway traffic Safety Administration has been looking into complaints that 2011-2017 models of Ford Explorers – including the police interceptors used by many police departments across the country – have potentially dangerous carbon monoxide seeping into the cars.
“Haven't had an officers complaining about being lightheaded,” Sipe said.
But the investigation is ongoing and Ford says the problem happens when the cars are upfitted, meaning when equipment is added to make them into police vehicles. But the NHTSA says the problem may be with the car itself and a recall is possible on down the road.
While there's been no problems reported here but a police sergeant in Austin, Texas is filing a lawsuit, claiming he was left with neurological problems after being poisoned by carbon monoxide in his cruiser.
Hickory Police has 21 of these cars. Last month, they outfitted them all with carbon monoxide detectors and still, they're looking at buying more of the cars, particularly the 2018 model.
“It’s a big concern," Sipe said. "That's why we put the detectors in our vehicles… but it’s not a concern because we haven't had any go off yet.”
They've asked the city council to approve a quarter-million-dollar investment to buy eight more.
“Does it worry you to put even more money into buying these cars while they’re still under investigation?" asked NBC Charlotte Defender's Michelle Boudin.
"No, because we haven't had any issues,” Sipe said.
CMPD has similar cars and is currently trying to get 100 of them fixed with parts to prevent the issues that have been happening.
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