As officer recovers, Providence working with Ford on carbon monoxide issue

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Providence police officer continues to recover after he was hospitalized for carbon monoxide exposure over the weekend.

“He’s doing well. He felt light-headed so he did the proper thing, we tested it and he’s doing well,” Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré said Monday.

The officer on Saturday drove himself to a nearby fire station and was taken to the hospital, where a test revealed low levels of CO in his bloodstream. He felt a little dizzy, according to Providence Police Commander Thomas Verdi, and was alerted to the buildup of the dangerous gas by a small detector installed in his cruiser.

The incident follows reports from police departments nationwide of carbon monoxide leaks in Ford SUVs. In Auburn, Mass., six officers were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning last week, including one who passed out behind the wheel and crashed as a result.

Representatives from Ford traveled to Auburn to inspect those cruisers and on Saturday, the department said that Ford engineers and Auburn mechanics had “corrected” the problem.

After a ceremony Monday welcoming dozens of new officers into the Providence Police Department, Paré told Eyewitness News the city is working with Ford to ensure the safety of its officers.

“Ford knows it’s a problem nationwide and they’ll get to the bottom to it and solve it,” he said. “We’ve been communicating with Ford so we’ll make sure those vehicles are safe for our officers.”

The Providence cruiser that had the leak on Saturday was briefly taken out of service for testing. After no problems were found, it was put back into service.

Paré also said he’s been in contact with other departments about the issue, including Michigan State Police.

Providence was one of the first departments in the region to outfit its cruisers with carbon monoxide detectors. Warwick, Cranston and the Rhode Island State Police have since followed suit.