Providence outfitting 43 police vehicles with carbon monoxide detectors after leak reports

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The city has purchased carbon monoxide detectors for 43 police SUVs after learning exhaust fumes may be leaking into certain models of the Ford Explorer.

Providence Police Commander Thomas Verdi said Friday the department chose to purchase the $20 devices as a precautionary measure after officials received an email from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency is conducting an investigation into the Ford vehicles.

A photo of the detectors Providence purchased.

Verdi stressed that no police officers in Providence or officials he’s spoken with around the state have “experienced any problem of carbon monoxide leaking into police vehicles.”

In a memo issued to all sworn personnel in the Providence Police Department on June 12, Police Chief Col. Hugh Clements explained that the detectors were being installed due to reports that “exhaust fumes may be leaking into the passenger compartment of certain versions of the Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicle when the vehicle is accelerating while the air conditioner is operating in recirculation mode.”

The memo goes on to explain that signs of carbon monoxide poisoning may include “dull headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, and/or blurred vision.”

“If you experience these symptoms and believe that you have been poisoned, seek medical attention immediately,” the memo states.

Verdi said the detector – a GULI Smart CO Alarm Car Charger G1 – will sound an alarm and flash red if carbon monoxide is detected. He said officers have been advised to turn the car off and roll down the windows.

“In city police departments, because we’re in and out of the vehicles so often, [it’s] very unlikely there would be a problem in Providence,” Verdi said. “Rural departments, where you’re driving hours at a time, if there was to be an issue, it’s more likely to happen in departments such as those.”

Providence currently has 140 marked police vehicles. The city is in the process of purchasing more.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan