Goodyear Tires has long been held up as the ideal for police tires, which is why many were shocked when a photo allegedly from Goodyear’s sensitivity training was posted online. The leaked photo said “Black Lives Matter” attire was permitted, but “Blue Lives Matter” would be met with zero tolerance.
While Goodyear denied that the photo came from their corporate office, they admitted that their policy bans any political paraphernalia “that fall outside the scope of racial justice and equity issues.” The policy seems to align perfectly with the allegedly fake photo.
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In regards to this ludicrous and anti-cop stance from a major provider of tires for police cars, several officers and union representatives spoke to The Federalist about their thoughts on Goodyear and the broader relationship between the public and the police.
There was a general consensus that companies ought not limit the speech of their employees by determining which opinions are “acceptable” to express. Detective Greg Wilking from Salt Lake City, Utah, said he doesn’t think the company policy helps anyone. “Being anti-someone and pro-something else and putting everyone else down in their beliefs or encouraging their speech, I don’t think it’s helpful in any direction,” he said.
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Bill Johnson, the executive director of the National Association of Police Officers (NAPA), a major police union said, “From our point of view, it’s just disgusting. It would be wrong for any employer to try to dictate their employees’ thoughts or feelings or political views, but in this case, I think they’re on the wrong side of it.”
This trend of companies distancing themselves from the police and supporting leftist causes is not exclusive to Goodyear. The list of companies releasing woke statements is seemingly endless. Lieutenant John Lamon of Sparta, New Jersey, noted Goodyear’s policy as a continuation of the national trend, stating, “It seems like a lot of these corporations now have swung the direction of, ‘we’re going to make sure that we don’t offend anyone.’ It’s something that, as with anything, we’re going to have to deal with. Sometimes you don’t like stuff that occurs, but all you can do is try to work with it.”
Dennis Slocumb, International Political Director and Vice President Emeritus of The International Union of Police Associations (IUPA), a major police union, has used Goodyear’s statements to determine the company’s values. He said, “Goodyear is a profit-making corporation and that’s the decision that they made. We support the First Amendment, of course, but that’s fine for them. They have a choice of who they’re going to support. Our members, and those who support our members, have a choice of where we buy our tires.”
To police officers, a rejection of “Blue Lives Matter” is not merely a political stance, but a callous statement of disregard for their lives. “To see today, a company that has made millions of dollars off police officers publicly declare that they don’t care about their lives, their very lives, that it’s unacceptable for an employee to support their beliefs is just disgusting,” Johnson said. “At the same time, the company says it’s OK for their employees to support a group that calls for the murder of police officers. It’s just disgusting.”
Andrew Smith, the chief of police in Green Bay, Wisconsin, put the anti-Blue Lives Matter sentiments in perspective, remembering the police that have died in the line of duty and how the slogan refers to lives that have been lost.
“There’s been lots of talk about the Goodyear and Black Lives Matter business. I refer people to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which reports all of the officers that have been killed. We lost 159 officers from the United States in line of duty deaths this year so far. That’s more than last year, and I guarantee you that every one of those blue lives mattered,” he said.
Police deaths in the line of duty are up 64 percent from last year. Further, the number of lives lost so far in 2020 already exceeds the total deaths of last year.
Many expressed that Blue Lives Matter is not to the exclusion of other lives, just an expression of support for the dangerous job that is policing. Smith said the Goodyear issue “speaks volumes about where we are as a country.”
“When wearing something as simple as ‘Blue Lives Matter,’ which doesn’t exclude other lives – and many of the blue lives killed this year happened to be black officers – I’m having a hard time understanding how that could be offensive to somebody” he said.
Lamon said, “They’ve taken that stance of ‘Blue Lives Matter upsets people.’ I think it’s ridiculous. In my opinion, all lives matter. It shouldn’t just be one group. Everyone’s life matters, whether it’s a Blue life or Black life or Hispanic life or Asian life.”
Some of the dismay comes from the frequent use of Goodyear tires on police cars, and the positive association they previously elicited. Johnson said, “The thing that’s worst of all is that Goodyear, for decades, has made a tremendous profit by selling their products, their tires in particular, to police departments and to manufacturers like Ford, who built police vehicles. For a long time, Goodyear tires was what you wanted to have on your police car.”
Smith noted that, while his police car was using Firestone, “I’ve got Goodyear tires on our personal car right now, I just looked to see. I’m really surprised that the company would come out with an anti-Blue Lives Matter training.”
This branding of Goodyear is not accidental on the company’s part. On the section of their website which specifically sells tires for police vehicles, they refer to themselves as the “recognized leader for police pursuit tires.” To then turn around and ban employees from workplace advocacy supporting a sizable customer base, while allowing demonstrated support for an openly anti-police group, feels like a betrayal to many officers.
The frustrations with Goodyear and the anti-cop crowd are tempered somewhat by stories of positive community interactions. “I think a large majority of the American public supports their police,” Johnson said. Chief Andrew Smith of the Green Bay told a heartwarming story of his near inability to go out in public without being stopped by several people intending to wish him well and express their support for the police. Andy Erbaugh of Tyler, Texas likewise expressed positivity, saying, “We’ll continue to do our jobs. The people in our town love us, we love them, and we’ll continue protecting them.”
Likewise, there was a perception that more widespread public support would return to the police. Lamon discussed how the unfeasibility of many proposals from the anti-cop crowd will likely bring people back to reason.
“I think that the pendulum swung one way, but it will swing back the opposite way when people see that we actually do perform a service that they need,” Lamon said. “When you get these people that say, ‘defund the police,’ well then, who’s going to take care of the people that need help? It’s ridiculous. People make comments, and then people rally behind it.”
In regards to decisions on how to proceed, the opinions were mixed. Both the IUPA and NAPO made this suggestion for anyone who supports the police: stop buying Goodyear tires.
“The feedback I have heard, and I will admit that most of the people with whom I interact are quite of the same mind I am, that they would no more buy Goodyear tires,” Slocumb said. “It’s not like you don’t have a choice. We would support anyone who supports the police not buying Goodyear.”
Johnson stated, “Our group would encourage not just individual officers and their families and their friends and their neighbors to avoid Goodyear products, but police departments, manufacturers, and the companies which service police vehicles. Stay away from Goodyear.”
Some, however, are not quite ready to end their longstanding relationship with the company just yet, and want to give Goodyear an opportunity to amend their hardline stance. Unready to write them off just yet, Smith said he wants “to see what Goodyear’s response is when they learn how people across the country feel about the [anti-cop] training.”