Ford Motor Co., along with the Arizona Attorney General, announced Sept. 30 several actions to enhance police officer safety across the country. The actions, identified over the past 90 days through the efforts of a Technical Task Force and Blue Ribbon Panel, include:An upgrade kit for the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor package designed to help re-duce the potential of fuel tank punctures in high-speed rear-end accidents by shielding key components. An optional trunk package designed to help police officers carry sharp-edged, heavy equip-ment more safely, horizontally rather than longitudinally. In some high-speed incidents, sharp and stiff or heavy objects in the trunk have been rammed forward through the truck wall and into the back seat, potentially damaging the fuel tank and injuring rear-seat occupants. This trunk package also will include a layer of puncture-resistant material. This trunk package will be available to police by the end of the year. A trunk template - or pattern - that can be placed in the trunk to show law enforcement agen-cies where equipment should or should not be mounted in the trunk. A new web site at www.cvpi.com to strengthen the lines of communication with law enforcement.These actions are the result of three months of intense research and testing of police practices as well as developmental work on the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. Three months ago, Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano and Ford Motor Co. Vice Presi-dent of Environmental and Safety Engineering Sue Cischke appointed company and police experts to a nine-member Blue Ribbon Panel to identify best practices and recommendations to help avoid accidents and improve officer safety during traffic patrol situations. They also created a Technical Task Force, comprised of engineers and scientists, to take an in-depth, detailed look at the vehicle and to find ways to further reduce the likelihood a Police Interceptor would experience a fuel tank puncture if involved in a high-speed, rear crash. The task force used a variety of means to identify as many potential tank-puncture sources as possible, including studying accidents in the field, conducting hundreds of computer-aided tests, components tests, and two crash tests at 75 miles per hour.This work led to the development of the component shielding for the Police Interceptor. The shields are for rear axle components, bolts on the differential in the center of the rear axle, and potential stress locations on the straps that hold the tank in place. Although Ford is not aware of any rear impact accidents resulting in a fire in which either the differential bolts or the tank straps punc-tured the tank, Ford addressed those potential tank puncture sources with shielding.The task force also has conducted numerous tests of fire suppression materials and will continue to work with suppliers. Ford is partnering with fire suppression experts on this complex issue and will continue to work to advance the state of the art.However, the task force has not been able to begin testing of fuel tank bladders because they are not available from the supplier. Based on previous testing, Ford believes serious technical challenges remain, and Ford cannot be optimistic in the short-term for high-volume, heavy-duty applications of the fuel tank bladders. Ford will provide upgrades to all Police Interceptors currently in police service at no cost. Law enforcement agencies also will be asked to review findings from Blue Ribbon Panel and consider using them.Parts will be available beginning late October. Police agencies will be asked to go to www.cvpi.com to obtain more information and, next month, they will be asked to provide information needed to have upgrade kits supplied to nearby dealers. In addition, all Police Interceptors ordered by law enforcement agencies from today forward will be built with these enhancements.