The men and women of law enforcement are known for putting themselves at risk to protect their communities – but the Austin Police Department is now facing a new, invisible danger.
Since the beginning of this year, Austin police officers have reported 10 incidents involving high levels of carbon monoxide in their patrol vehicles – Ford Explorer SUVs modified for use by law enforcement. The worst involved Sgt. Zachary LaHood who was poisoned in his vehicle, leading to neurological injuries that have kept him off duty for months.
Tony Plohetski, an investigative reporter for the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV, says officers are left wondering if their patrol vehicles are safe, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigates.
Written by Rachel Rascoe.