North Texas

Law Enforcement Vehicles Fall Under Massive Airbag Recall

Ten Ellis County Sheriff's Department vehicles are not currently being used after Sheriff Johnny Brown ordered them out of service when he learned they fall under a massive nationwide recall.

More than 30 million vehicles are affected by defective Takata airbags that when deployed can rupture internally with too much force and send metal fragments flying into the cabin of the vehicle.

Departments across North Texas are learning some of the Dodge Chargers they use are affected by the recall, specifically any 2005-2010 Dodge Chargers.

"We made the decision at the time to park all our 2010 units," said Lt. James Saulter. "We don't want a deputy getting hurt or somebody that's been arrested getting hit with flying fragments, as well as we have folks that ride out with us, and we didn't want anybody getting hurt."

Saulter said the department was notified the parts to take care of the recall were not available.

"It's a huge impact," Saulter said. "But we definitely want our citizens to know it's not going to impact us being able to answer calls or take care of them."

NBC 5 reached out to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and was told the parts are now en route to Ellis County and service for those units is imminent.

"Customer safety is a top priority at FCA US LLC. Accordingly, we are executing this recall campaign in the most expeditious manner possible, keeping NHTSA fully apprised of our progress," said a statement from the company.

With safety concerns looming, some departments immediately started repairs when the parts were available, including both Irving and Dallas police departments.

In Dallas, about 530 of the departments Dodge Chargers fall under the recall, according to Equipment Building Services representative Charitta Johnson. However, Dallas Police did not remove any of the recalled vehicles from service. Johnson tells NBC 5 the recall did not instruct that the vehicles stopped being used.

In Irving, 46 of the police department's more than 250 vehicles are affected by the recall. The department has already repaired 10 of those units and is continuing repairs on others.

"It really hasn't affected us too bad. Some of these are unmarked, they might be in use by our detectives or not in use every day," said Irving Police Department spokesman James McLellan.

"Only a portion of those are marked cars, and those are being called in as they have the parts and paperwork for them, so it really doesn't have an impact on our operations."

Chrysler Fiat Automotive also pointed out there are two airbag inflators that are subject to recall, Alpha and Beta. All deaths have been associated with the Alpha inflators. FCA vehicles have never been equipped with Alpha inflators, according to the company.

The company is aware of an issue with a Beta inflator in a 2006 Dodge Charger, which resulted in non-life threatening injuries, according to FCA.

Fiat Chrysler tells NBC 5 they are not using Takata parts to replace the potentially defective inflators.

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