Police officers in Tempe, AZ say they were forced to leave a Starbucks on the Fourth of July because a customer complained they “did not feel safe” with the officers in the shop.
Six police officers had just ordered their drinks and were sipping them at the front of the store when they were allegedly approached by a barista and asked to move out of the customer’s sight, CBS News reported. The barista told the officers the customer felt unsafe with the number of cops in the store, according to the Tempe Officers Association. Officers left the store in response to the request.
In a statement, Tempe Officers Association President Rob Ferraro lamented the treatment of law enforcement officials.
“It’s become accepted to not trust or to see police and think that we’re not here to serve you, and again, it goes back to — we take great pride of the level of customer service we provide to citizens, and to be looked at as feeling unsafe when you have law enforcement around you is somewhat perplexing to me,” Ferraro told Fox 10 in a phone interview.
In a subsequent statement on Twitter, the union called the incident “disheartening” and said it hoped to have a dialogue with Starbucks about the treatment their officers received.
Don't appreciate @Starbucks asking our #Tempe cops to leave your establishment on the #4thofjuly2019. Several of those cops are #veterans who fought for this country! #ZeroRespect pic.twitter.com/oGaDKhlYX3
— Tempe Officers Association (@ToaAz) July 5, 2019
“This treatment of public safety workers could not be more disheartening. While the barista was polite, making such a request at all was offensive. Unfortunately, such treatment has become all too common in 2019,” the statement said. “We know this is not a national policy at Starbucks Corporate and we look forward to working collaboratively with them on this important dialogue.”
In response to the incident, Starbucks issued a written response praising law enforcement and promising to investigate the matter.
“We have deep respect for the Tempe Police Department and its service to our community,” the statement said. “We have reached out to understand better what may have happened in our store, and to apologize for any misunderstanding or inappropriate behavior that may have taken place.”
Tempe police amid a national discussion on law enforcement
In the aftermath, Ferraro thanked the public for their support of the officers and praised Starbucks for addressing the issue.
“We would like to thank the public for the overwhelming support shown to our officers in the aftermath of this unfortunate incident,” Ferraro said. “We are encouraged that Starbucks has reached out to our organization and to the Tempe Police Department to apologize and to further express their support of law enforcement.”
“We hope that out of this unfortunate incident there comes a welcome dialogue, one that more closely unites the men and women on the front lines of police work with the communities we serve and protect,” Ferraro concluded.
In recent years, various groups and figures have emerged to protest alleged systemic abuses of police power. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick ignited a fierce debate in 2016, when he took a knee during the national anthem at NFL games to shine a spotlight on police brutality.
Black Lives Matter, one of the most prominent activist social movements, takes its slogan from the premise that there is an epidemic of racially motivated unlawful police killings of black men – a claim that is not necessarily supported by data.
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