The Philadelphia Police Department pulled nearly 300 police cruisers from service last week for safety checks after an officer’s car went up in flames following a car crash.
Last Monday, top brass ordered 282 of the department’s Chevy Impalas be taken out of service and checked at a maintenance center in the Hunting Park section of the city, police confirm to NBC10.
Police mechanics were specifically inspecting every bolt on each car’s frame after concerns were raised about an issue with them, officials said.
John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, tells NBC10 the union has been made aware of issues with bolts falling out of the car’s frames.
The emergency maintenance was ordered two days after a department Impala burst into flames at 28th and Tasker Streets in the Point Breeze section of the city. The fire started after the cruiser was broadsided by a pickup truck, trapping 17th District Officer Mark Kimsey. Kimsey was pulled from the car by two good Samaritans before fire fully engulfed the car.
Most of the Impalas were returned to the streets right away, but some were kept for preventive maintenance like oil changes and brake checks, police said.
McNesby said the Impalas are designed to have a four to five year shelf life, but the department uses the cars for multiple shifts a day causing them to wear more quickly.
"We’re constantly documenting issues with them,” he said adding that some of the cars have 300,000 miles on them and have had engines fall out.
"There’s bolts missing, there’s structural damage. There’s frame damage," he said. "They weren’t made to be run as much as they are."
The union has an upcoming arbitration with the city over the condition of the police department fleet, McNesby said.
A Philadelphia police spokeswoman said the safety of officers is the highest priority and that’s why the cars were checked.
The city recently purchased 150 new police cruisers, some Fords and others Chevys, to swap out old cars, a spokesperson for Mayor Michael Nutter's office said. Half of those cars arrived Tuesday.
The crash investigation into the cruiser fire is ongoing.