Clayton patrol cars making officers sick with CO poisoning

by: Mark Winne Updated:

Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services Capt. Walter Barber showed Winne the kind of gas detector he said firefighters used to check the carbon monoxide levels in two of the police cars in question.
JONESBORO, Ga. —

Channel 2 Action News has learned of a potential danger in Clayton County's patrol cars that has already made one officer severely sick.

Clayton County police officials told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne an officer operating his marked unit Dec. 31 got nauseous and had a headache.

"He didn't make any statements or any comments to his supervisor in reference to it," Lt. Christopher Windley with the Clayton County Police Department said.

On Wednesday, the same officer was driving the same patrol unit and "began to have the same physical ailments," according to a statement obtained by Winne. The statement goes on to say the officer was taken to a medical facility and was treated and released.

Windley said the officer's car, and a second one a supervisor had concerns about, each showed elevated carbon monoxide levels.

Windley told Winne he didn't know the specific mileage on the vehicles involved, but there are a number of high-mileage vehicles in the police fleet.

"With the economy today, we have to drive the vehicles a little longer than we used to," Windley said.

Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services Capt. Walter Barber showed Winne the kind of gas detector he said firefighters used to check the carbon monoxide levels in two of the police cars in question.

"It tests for major gasses," Barber said.

He said the elevated levels found were short of the 35 parts per million levels that sets off the department's alarms.

Barber said there's no way for him to know, based on what they collected, whether it was indeed carbon monoxide that caused the officer's symptoms.

"The gas itself is odorless and it's clear," Barber said.

He said with carbon monoxide, it's always better to err on the side of caution.

"(It's) a silent killer. That's why we encourage people to install carbon monoxide detectors in their homes," he said.

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