Ford Motor Company Employees have asked the company’s leadership to stop making and selling police vehicles.
According to Verge, the internal discussion came as the demands for racial justice raged across the country.
In response, Ford CEO Jim Hackett has told employees in a letter that he doesn’t think it’s “controversial that the Ford Police Interceptor helps officers do their job” and that Ford will continue the business.
Ford has the market when it comes to making police cars, accounting for two-thirds of the cop cars on the street.
Despite Ford’s success in the police car market, employees, including black workers who are part of Ford’s African Ancestry Network (FAAN) employee resource group have circulated a letter asking the company to “cease development, production, and sale of all custom police vehicles and products.”
Other employees have since signed onto the letter and they want the company to take some kind of action by July 15th.
This is one reason why employees inside Ford are now arguing that the company should sever its relationship with police. “We cannot claim to support the fight against systemic racism while supplying and supporting the very systems that perpetrate violence against Black Americans,” the group wrote, according to Jalopnik.
Throughout our history, the vehicles that Ford employees design and build have been used as accessories to police brutality and oppression. We know that while many join, support, or supply law enforcement with good intentions, these racist policing practices that plague our society are historic and systemic — a history and system perpetuated by Ford for over 70 years — ever since Ford introduced the first-ever police package in 1950. As an undeniable part of that history and system, we are long overdue to “think and act differently” on our role in racism.
In Hackett’s internal letter to employees, he defended the company’s business of making vehicles for police. And he argued that Ford’s police cars, SUVs, and trucks could make those police officers “safer and more accountable” — though without going into detail:
The issues plaguing police credibility have nothing to do with the vehicles they’re driving. In fact, as we imagine the future power of our connected vehicles, smarter Ford vehicles can be used to not only improve officers’ ability to protect and serve, but also provide data that can make police safer and more accountable. Just think, dating back to the Model T, Ford has more than 100 years in serving first responders and that leadership over the decades has been earned by co-developing our purpose-built vehicles and technologies with police and emergency agencies to make our vehicles the number one choice.
Hackett also said that taking away Ford’s specially-built vehicles “would be doing harm to [police officers’] safety and making it harder for them to do their job.”
“Again, this is why, given our insights, new capabilities and leadership, I believe these unfortunate circumstances present Ford with an even greater opportunity to not only innovate new solutions but also leverage our unique position to support the dialogue and reform needed to create safer communities for all,” Hackett wrote.
He wrapped his letter by thanking employees for speaking up, but saying that Ford won’t change course. “I do appreciate people speaking their mind to me on this issue – it helped me generate this note to explain why we are continuing our commitment to police forces all over the world in our trusted products,” he said.