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Lt. Darren Francke of Montgomery County Police Dept., says some patrol cars' steering problems prevent drivers from controlling cars

10:44 PM, Sep 11, 2012   |    comments
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ROCKVILLE, MD. (WUSA) --- The Montgomery County Police department is inspecting each of its 324 Ford Crown Victoria police cars to see if they have dangerous steering defects.

The inspection comes after two officers in the last six weeks turned the steering wheels of their cars only to have the Crown Victoria continue to travel straight ahead, not responding the the turn of the wheel.

The 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week inspection program began earlier this week and has discovered the steering problem in five additional cars, so far.

As of Tuesday night, more than half the fleet of Crown Victorias had been inspected and given clearance to return to service.

Montgomery County asked for a federal investigation, which has begun.

"What happened was the steering wheel would just spin, disengage from the steering linkage, and the vehicles' tires would go straight and the officers would have to use their brakes to bring the vehicle to a stop so, essentially, they could not control the direction of the vehicle," said Lt. Darren Francke of the experience of fellow officers who have experienced the problem.

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