A North Carolina Kay Jewelers employee was fired this week following a public outcry over the worker’s refusal to let a police officer into the store because he was armed.
According to the Charlotte Observer, the jewelry store employee barred an Iredell County Sheriff’s deputy from entering the business because the officer had a service weapon in his holster. The officer, who was in uniform, was told to leave the pistol behind or come back to the store at a later time.
After getting wind of the situation, Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell issued a statement Wednesday saying he was “saddened” by the jeweler’s actions.
“The Iredell County Sheriffs Office, along with Sheriff Darren Campbell, are deeply saddened at a situation involving a fellow deputy yesterday in Statesville,” Campbell said in a message shared to Facebook, adding that the department has a policy against officers removing their service weapon while in uniform.
“This policy is in place for not only the safety of the deputy, but the general public as well,” Campbell added. “The manager stated our deputy would need to return to the store at a different time when he was not armed. The deputy left the store, without the ring he had purchased.”
Campbell’s Facebook statement soon went viral, garnering more than 12,000 likes, 5,000 comments, and 9,000 shares within 24 hours of being posted. Many commenters were supportive of the shunned deputy, expressing outrage at the way he’d been treated.
After learning about the controversy, Kay Jewelers issued a Facebook statement of its own on Wednesday saying the company “sincerely apologized for the mishandling of this matter” and had “reached out immediately to the customer and the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office.”
“Our policy is that any member of law enforcement is always welcomed in our store at any time, as a customer or in an official capacity,” Kay Jewelers said in the post. “We have tremendous respect for and closely work with law enforcement at all levels, and we thank the (Sheriff’s) Office for bringing this to our attention.”
Kay Jewelers revealed the employee, identified as a store manager, had been fired. The company also said it would be providing additional training to employees to prevent similar incidents in the future.
“We have tremendous respect for and closely work with law enforcement at all levels, and we thank the Office for bringing this to our attention,” the statement said. “We are reinforcing store training regarding all of our Customer First policies, as well as specific policies related to law enforcement, in all of our stores.”
Fired Kay Jewelers employee highlights sensitivity of the gun debate
The incident highlights a cultural and ideological divide over the hot-button topic of gun violence in America.
Proponents of gun control, citing firearms homicide and mass shooting figures, argue that American gun culture contributes to the greater incidence of gun violence in the country when compared to other developed nations.