BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – In an age of concern about COVID-19, police in Boardman have had to adapt to new ways of doing things.
“When they get in the vehicle at the beginning of their shift, they’ll wipe it down completely with Clorox wipes,” Chief Todd Werth said.
Soon, even that may change, thanks to new technology from Ford.
Boardman’s fleet manager has been able to reprogram the on-board computers of 10 cruisers so they can literally sanitize themselves using the vehicle’s own heating system.
“It runs for roughly 15 to 30 minutes at that 130- to 140-degree temperature, floods the compartment — even in the back through the partition,” said Mike Carkido, a member of Ford’s Elite Police Advisory Board.
About a month ago, he and others from half-a-dozen police departments across the country were chosen to test the new system in the wake of growing concerns about police vehicles being exposed to the coronavirus.
“I tried to make it screw up any possible way,” Carkido said.
But try as he might, Carkido found the new software is both safe for the officers and effective at killing bugs — both the viral type and those that fly or crawl — that could be brought in by prisoners.
“This is a perfect temperature that Ohio University suggests will kill the virus, whether it’s under the seats, in the back, in the little crevices, in the little heater vents,” Carkido said.
It could also save the department money. When two Boardman officers came down with COVID-19 recently, their cruisers had to be professionally cleaned.
“It was just around a thousand dollars each vehicle,” Werth said. “It takes that vehicle out of the fleet until we can schedule that.”
While Carkido thinks the new software will be widely available soon for other departments to retrofit their own fleets, he believes it will eventually become standard equipment on new police interceptors.