SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (WBAY) - Relief could be coming to the Sheboygan County Sheriff's Office now that Ford Motor Company says it will pay for repairs to its police cruisers. They are believed to be leaking carbon monoxide, as part of an issue linked to crashes and some injuries across the country.
In 2015, a California police officer, behind the wheel of an out-of-control SUV believed he passed out after being exposed to a poisonous carbon monoxide leak in his squad. Similar leaks have been seen, in the past two years, in the fleet of SUVs the Sheboygan County Sheriff's Office uses.
"In the fall of 2015 I was approached by a deputy who said his trainee, who was riding with him, complained of an exhaust smell while they were out on patrol. Two days later he came back to me and said his wife expressed the same concern because he's always come home smelling like exhaust," says Calvin Kesweder, Fleet Maintenance Supervisor for Sheboygan County.
Without any visible signs of a problem with the SUV in question, calls were placed to Ford Motor Company which couldn't offer a solution. It was only after head mechanic Calvin Kesweder really dug into the car did he find a problem.
According to Kesweder, "I noticed this yellow dust that was on the backside of the manifold. That obviously caught my attention and I pulled the manifold off to see where that might be coming from and that's when I noticed that there was a crack."
Since then, Kesweder says he's replaced about thirty cracked manifolds in the fleet of sheriff's office suv's. The cracks were always in the same place, no matter the age of the vehicle.
"To find out that these manifolds are putting them in harms way, does not sit well with me," adds Kesweder.
Each new manifold costs about $400 to replace, plus the hour or two to get the work done. And while you can't put a price tag on an officer or deputy's safety, to know that Ford is finally taking responsibility for the flaw does come as a relief.
Kesweder adds, "They're willing to stand behind us, they're willing to give us what we need and hopefully rectify the problem so it stops happening - that's the goal."
Ford Motor Company said they are taking action to address these concerns. Hau Thai-Tang, Executive Vice-President of Product Development and Purchasing said, "There is nothing we take more seriously than providing you with the safest and most reliable vehicles."
There investigation is still ongoing but the company has found holes and unsealed spaces in the back of some Police Interceptor Utilities that had police equipment installed after leaving Ford's factory.
Ford said they will cover the costs of specific repairs in every Police Interceptor Utility like checking and sealing the rear of the vehicle where the exhaust can enter, check engine codes and provide a new air conditioning calibration.