Suburban police monitoring Ford Explorer carbon monoxide leaks

  • The Des Plaines Police Department is one of many in the suburbs that has Ford Explorer Police Interceptors in their fleets. Police in some parts of the country are reporting exhaust fumes leaking into the SUVs' passenger cabins, but police in Des Plaines and other suburbs say they haven't had problems.

      The Des Plaines Police Department is one of many in the suburbs that has Ford Explorer Police Interceptors in their fleets. Police in some parts of the country are reporting exhaust fumes leaking into the SUVs' passenger cabins, but police in Des Plaines and other suburbs say they haven't had problems. Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
Posted10/20/2017 5:03 AM

Police across the country have reported carbon monoxide leaking into the passenger cabins of their Ford Explorer Police Interceptors -- a staple of suburban departments' fleets -- making officers ill, and in some instances causing them to pass out behind the wheel and crash.

A Massachusetts department had three officers hospitalized due to high carbon monoxide levels. The Austin, Texas, police even pulled all 400 of their Explorers off the road after officers complained of fumes.

 

We checked in with some suburban police officials whose departments deploy Explorers. All say they're aware of the reports and are monitoring the situation closely. Many have tested their Explorers for leaks.

So far, no major problems.

"We've been very fortunate, knock on wood," Des Plaines Police Chief William Kushner said of his department and others in the suburbs avoiding problems with Ford Explorer Police Interceptors.
  "We've been very fortunate, knock on wood," Des Plaines Police Chief William Kushner said of his department and others in the suburbs avoiding problems with Ford Explorer Police Interceptors. - Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

"We've been very fortunate, knock on wood," said Des Plaines Chief William Kushner. "We've had no complaints or incidents, and found no raised carbon monoxide levels."

Of more than a half dozen departments we checked, only St. Charles reported an issue. After an officer smelled exhaust in a police SUV, the Explorer was sent to a dealer, where mechanics found and repaired a small leak, said Deputy Chief Dave Kintz. As a precaution, the department installed a carbon monoxide detector in the SUV.

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Like us, Kushner, a vice president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, said he hasn't heard of any other instances in the suburbs.

What's happening?

Ford has issued a statement saying it's taking the reports seriously and investigating the causes. From what they found, according to the statement, the problem might lie with special police equipment, like cages or radio mounts, installed after the SUVs are delivered.

Police leaders we spoke with agreed.

"A lot of it has to do with outfitting the vehicles. Holes are being drilled into the floor and not being sealed properly, and that's when the leaks are happening," Algonquin Deputy Chief Ryan Markham told us.

None of his department's seven Explorers have had problems, he added.

'Cradle Your Distraction'

Despite all the warnings, crash statistics and threats of fines, chances are you don't go a day without spotting people behind the wheel texting or holding phones up to their ears.

So, beginning next week, Arlington Heights police are taking a new tack in the fight against distracted driving.

The department is teaming with the Napleton Auto Group to launch the "Cradle Your Distraction" program. During the campaign, officers who spot someone texting or using a handheld device will pull over the vehicle and educate the driver on the dangers of distracted driving.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The officer will then offer a cellphone cradle that can be installed on the dashboard, allowing hands-free use. The cradle will be offered in lieu of a ticket.

The department will formally kick off the campaign with a news conference Monday morning at Napleton Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Arlington Heights.

Quick stat

Over the past two years, Arlington Heights police have doled out 3,102 tickets to drivers using their cellphones behind the wheel.

Don't mess with the judge

Things got heated in a Kane County courtroom Monday when the defense attorney for a St. Charles man accused of trying to kill his wife ran afoul of Judge D.J. Tegeler.

Alison Motta was questioning the now-former wife of Scott Turyna during a bond hearing when Tegeler scolded her for what he thought was an inappropriate remark about the woman's lack of contact with her stepsons since the May 2016 shooting.

A livid Tegeler then accused Motta of muttering under her breath and of rolling her eyes in disrespect.

Do it again "and you will end up somewhere," he told her in a not-so-veiled threat of a contempt of court finding. "The last time, you got a 90-day suspension."

D.J. Tegeler
D.J. Tegeler

Tegeler was referring to Motta's 90-day suspension from practicing in federal court earlier this year. She'd been accused of muttering in front of jurors that a judge's decision was "(expletive expletive)." She was also accused of rolling her eyes, shaking her head and making improper comments about witnesses' testimony.

In the meantime, Turyna continues to await trial on attempted murder, aggravated domestic battery and aggravated discharge of a firearm charges alleging he tried to kill his then-wife of 26 years.

Namaste

The Lake County sheriff's office has an interesting new way of helping those locked up in its jail cope with the stress and anxiety of incarceration.

Lake County authorities last week tried a new method of helping jail inmates deal with the stress and anxiety of being locked up: Yoga Laughter. The session won "high praise" from inmates, according to Sheriff Mark Curran.
Lake County authorities last week tried a new method of helping jail inmates deal with the stress and anxiety of being locked up: Yoga Laughter. The session won "high praise" from inmates, according to Sheriff Mark Curran. - Courtesy of the Lake County Sheriff's Office

Last week, Sheriff Mark Curran invited Laughter Yoga USA into the jail for a one-hour session with jail inmates.

Proponents of Laughter Yoga, described as a practice involving prolonged voluntary laughter, say it eases depression and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, releases endorphins and offers compassion, hope, positive attitude and gratitude. Inmates were taught the benefits of laughter, meditation and breathing exercises.

"Through our programming, educational, spiritual, and re-entry programs, we strive to provide inmates with the tools they need to re-enter the community, and stay out of jail," Curran said.

"This session of Laughter Yoga received high praise from the participating inmates. There were plenty of laughs, and many inspired inmates."

• Got a tip? Send an email to copsandcrime@dailyherald.com or call (847) 427-4483.

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