Berkeley County takes 4 deputies' Ford Explorers out of service for carbon monoxide leaks

Berkeley County Ford Explorers (WCIV)

Local police and sheriff’s departments across the Lowcountry have begun installing carbon monoxide detectors in the agencies’ Ford Explorer Interceptors between the model years 2011 and 2017.

The installation comes on the heels of a federal investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into Ford’s popular SUV after reports of the deadly gas leaking into the cabin.

“Those vehicles are their office,” said Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis. “They spend a considerable amount of time in there so it is very important to us that we investigate it and determine what's going on and get it fixed as soon as possible.”

Lewis told ABC News 4 the department has 38 Ford Explorer Interceptors in its fleet, and all fall within the model years impacted by the probe.

He said he only found out about the issue last week when his fleet manager learned of the investigation directly from Ford.

Since then, he said the department has done everything to educate and protect its deputies.

“At least four of the vehicles we tested in the first stages showed signs of carbon monoxide, so we have taken those vehicles offline, and they are now at Ford being repaired.”

Lewis said Ford officials told him there are indications that “upfitting” of the vehicles to include blue lights and sirens may have contributed to the issue, but there is no concrete evidence of that.

The City of Goose Creek has two Ford Explorer Interceptors in its fleet, according to Franklin Johnson, the city’s spokesperson.

The City of Charleston has 11. Four are model year 2013, four are model year 2015, and three are model year 2016.

Highway Patrol has 69 in its fleet, according to Sergeant Bob Beres. He said the agency is aware of the issue and is monitoring it. He also said SCDPS is working directly with Ford.

Beres said there have been no reported concerns from troopers at this time and no vehicles removed from the fleet.

While four vehicles have been removed from the BCSO fleet, Lewis said there have not been any reports of illness.

The department is taking every precaution, though, and providing all 38 deputies who drive the vehicles in question with detailed information on carbon monoxide poisoning, what to be on the lookout for, and backup car just in case.

Lewis said he’ll take all 38 Explorers out of the rotation if that’s what it takes.

“We're not taking any chances,” he said. “We're going to do everything we can to make sure we get this right and that whomever is responsible repairs it.”

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