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Two police officers in Springfield, Illinois, have been hospitalized since November after they suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning in their squad cars. According to a news report in the Illinois Times, emails obtained by the publication showed one of the officers’ CO level upon arrival to the hospital was close to critical. The department’s Deputy Chief Shawn Handlin wrote in the email: “That’s unacceptable to officers.” The report said Handlin then asked about testing the cars.
High CO Levels Cause Concern
According to emails, high carbon monoxide levels have been an issue in Ford Crown Victoria squad cars, which haven’t been made since 2011. In an email, the city manager wrote to Handlin that exhaust getting into the cars is not a “design problem” but an “age problem.” Propane leaks were also an issue, he said. A second officer was taken to the hospital where an elevated level of carbon monoxide was found in his blood. He was given oxygen and was expected to recover well enough to return to work the following day.
After that incident, Chief Kenny Winslow emailed the city manager asking that all cars be tested and the results documented. This was the third recent incident involving CO poisoning, he said. The city manager wrote in his email on Dec. 6 that the vehicles needed to be tested, but months later, the police department still hasn’t received answers, internal emails show. The city had issued carbon monoxide detectors for cars. Meanwhile other vehicles continue to emit CO fumes, the report said. Police union representatives say there have been five incidents of elevated carbon monoxide in police cars and officers are extremely concerned.
Need for Prompt Action
Police officers spend a majority of their time in squad cars. It is imperative that their safety and health comes first. It is unacceptable for city management to require police officers to do their jobs for months in vehicles that are unsafe and spew toxic gas. It is indeed fortunate that none of the officers have lost consciousness and been involved in crashes. Our law firm is representing others who haven’t been as fortunate.
There are many more dangers in addition to officers being affected by CO poisoning. They might lose consciousness and cause a crash injuring others as well. It is also important to thoroughly examine the squad cars for any design defects that might have caused carbon monoxide to leak into the vehicle compartment.
Whether you are an officer or a civilian who has been affected by carbon monoxide leaks in your vehicle, it is important that you contact an experienced auto defect lawyer who can help you seek compensation for your losses and hold that manufacturer accountable for making unsafe vehicles.