Within the company, Ford employees are reportedly demanding that leadership stop manufacturing and selling police cars. Ford confirmed that this internal discussion is taking place when asked by reporters from The Verge. The company maintained that it would continue to make For Police Interceptors to "help officers do their job."
The U.S. has been undergoing a historical reckoning with its policing system, institutional racism and state violence since the killing of George Floyd in late May. The discussion has touched nearly every aspect of life, including the work that Ford employees do. Ford reportedly commands two-thirds of the market when it comes to vehicles designed specifically for law enforcement. CEO Jim Hackett said that that would not change, regardless of the policing reforms being pushed by many.
Hackett said that he told his employees he does not think it's "controversial that the Ford Police Interceptor helps officers do their job." Ford reportedly confirmed that the issue came up during a recent town hall meeting between company leaders and employees. The company also admitted that it received a petition to stop manufacturing police cars from employees, though it would not disclose how many signatures it got.
The letter called for Ford to "cease development, production and sale of all custom police vehicles and products," according to Jalopnik. "Our resources can and should be diverted to other forms of first response and public safety," employees argued. The letter originated with an employee resource group called Fords African Ancestry Network (FAAN), but has since spread beyond their members.
"Throughout our history, the vehicles that Ford employees design and build have been used as accessories to police brutality and oppression," the letter reads. "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."
This situation puts Ford behind several other companies that are already agreeing to disentangle themselves from police partnerships. Social media app Nextdoor has decided to close its program allowing users to forward posts to law enforcement, while Amazon has stopped allowing police to use its facial recognition software. Microsoft has made a similar pledge, according to The Verge.
Along with Ford, several bike companies have refused to end their partnerships with police, despite employee outcry in some cases. Ford employees took particular issue with Hackett's assertion that "the issues plaguing police credibility have nothing to do with the vehicles they're driving," after a viral video from a New York City protest showed police knowingly driving two SUV's into a crowd of protesters, injuring some. Protests continue in major cities around the country.