Ford employees have asked the company’s leadership to stop making and selling police vehicles Jalopnik. In response, Ford CEO Jim Hackett told his employees in a letter that he does not “find it controversial that the Ford Police Interceptor help officers do their jobs” and that Ford will continue to run the company.
The internal discussion, which Ford confirmed The edgecomes when the country is seized by national racial justice movements and police brutality caused by the murder of George Floyd.
Ford is by far the largest automobile manufacturer in the US when it comes to making and selling specially designed law enforcement vehicles, which make up about two-thirds of the market. While not a major source of the company’s annual revenues (which was $ 156 billion in 2019), Ford has long maintained that the entire lineup benefits from new technologies being tested in police vehicles (such as hybrid electric powertrains, for example) ).
However, the national protests have inspired some Ford employees to reconsider the company’s relationship with the police. The issue has been raised at recent city hall meetings and now employees – including black workers who are part of the group of Ford’s African Ancestry Network (FAAN) employees – have sent a letter asking the company to “stop development, production and sales to deploy all adapted police vehicles and products. ”
Other employees have since signed the letter (although it’s not clear how much) and they want the company to take some sort of action on July 15, according to Jalopnik. “Our resources can and should be used for other forms of initial response and public safety,” employees wrote.
The seemingly endless images of police brutality captured in recent months have led to reckoning in some industries, especially technology. Nextdoor discontinued a program that allowed users to forward messages to law enforcement officers. In fact, Amazon has announced that it will no longer allow police to use its facial recognition technology for a year, and Microsoft has made a similar promise. This all came after employees across the tech industry also pushed against their companies’ contracts with government agencies in the past year.
But the same couldn’t really be said for the transportation industry (except for bike companies, who are divided on this), although in some of the most gruesome videos that went viral in the past two months, protesters were run over by Ford police vehicles.
This is one of the reasons employees within Ford now argue that the company should cut ties with the police. “We cannot claim to support the fight against systemic racism while delivering and supporting the systems that commit violence against black Americans,” the group wrote Jalopnik.
Throughout our history, the vehicles that Ford employees design and build have been used as accessories for brutality and police oppression. We know that while many join, support, or support law enforcement with good intentions, these racist practices that plague our society are historical and systematic – a history and system that Ford has pursued for more than 70 years – since Ford very first police package in 1950. As an undeniable part of that history and system, we have long had to “think and act differently” about our role in racism.
When Hackett in public responded to the national protests in early June, he said “[t]here are no easy answers “, and that Ford” is not interested in superficial actions. “Hackett said that”[t]Now is our time to lead the way and fully commit to creating the fair, just and inclusive culture our employees deserve. ”
But in his internal letter to employees, Hackett defended the company that made police vehicles. And he argued that Ford’s police cars, SUVs and trucks could make those police officers “safer and more responsible” – although without going into detail:
The problems that plague the credibility of the police have nothing to do with the vehicles they drive. As we envision the future strength of our connected vehicles, smarter Ford vehicles can be used not only to improve officers’ ability to protect and serve, but also to provide data that can make the police safer and more responsible. Recall that Ford dates back to the Model T and has more than 100 years of first responders experience and leadership has been earned over the decades by developing our purpose-built vehicles and technologies together with police and emergency services to make our vehicles number one choice.
Hackett also said that taking Ford’s purpose-built vehicles “would be harmful [police officers’] safety and making it more difficult for them to do their job. ”
“Again, this is why, given our insights, new capabilities and leadership, I think these unfortunate circumstances give Ford an even greater chance to not only innovate new solutions, but also leverage our unique position to support dialogue and reform needed to create safer communities for everyone, ‘wrote Hackett.
He closed his letter by thanking his staff for their vote, but said Ford would not change course. “I appreciate people speaking their views on this issue to me – it helped me generate this note to explain why we continue our commitment to police forces around the world in our trusted products,” he said.
Ford declined to comment outside of Hackett’s letter.