Ford will keep making vehicles called Police Interceptors that are used by law enforcement agencies across the nation, CEO Jim Hackett said.
If Ford were to stop making the cars, law enforcement would not be as safe and would not be able to do their jobs as well, Hackett argued in a memo sent to employees.
He also said: “It’s not controversial that the Ford Police Interceptor helps officers do their job. 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.”
Ford will “continue to be a powerful voice for Black Lives Matter, holding ourselves accountable for significant change, while also continuing to help keep communities safe by producing Police Interceptors and partnering with law enforcement in new ways to strongly support the safety for all members of society,” Hackett added.
Dozens of Ford employees signed onto a letter to Hackett and Ford Chairman Bill Ford.
The employees wrote that throughout company history, vehicles Ford designed and built “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,” they wrote.
According to Ford’s website, it became in 1950 the first manufacturer to officer a custom police vehicle.
“As an undeniable part of that history and system, we are long overdue to ‘think and act differently’ on our role in racism,” the employees added.
Workers who signed the letter urged Ford to stop developing, producing, and selling all police vehicles and products by July 15.
Some 13,000 people also signed an online petition asking Ford to remove its Police Interceptors from “Law Enforcers using violent tactics.”
In Hackett’s response, he says he believes in the idea of systemic racism in law enforcement. Hackett promised to personally review the company’s “Diversity and Inclusion rituals, practices and behaviors.” And he thanked people for speaking up, telling them their thoughts helped him “generate this note to explain why we are continuing our commitment to police forces all over the world in our trusted products.”