Glenpool, OK – The Kiefer police chief has urged Starbucks to rehire the employee who was fired for allegedly labeling a uniformed Kiefer police officer’s five-drink order with the word “PIG” on Thanksgiving Day.
“We start civility by forgiving minor indiscretions and using those moments to help people better themselves," Kiefer Police Chief Johnny O’Mara told KJRH. “It's my belief that a young person's mistake in judgment was made and she paid the price for that violation.”
Chief O’Mara said he already spoken with Starbucks officials and “requested the young employee who was terminated be offered a position of employment,” KTUL reported.
The incident started when an on-duty officer wanted to “do something nice” for the dispatchers who were working with him over the holiday, so he stopped by the Glenpool Starbucks “to get the dispatchers a coffee as a thank you for all they do,” Kiefer Police Chief Johnny O’Mara said in a Facebook post on Thanksgiving afternoon.
But when the lone officer received his order, he realized that one of the employees had printed the word “PIG” on each of the five cup labels.
Chief O’Mara posted a photo of one of the cups onto social media.
“What irks me is the absolute and total disrespect for a police officer who, instead of being home with family and enjoying a meal and a football game, is patrolling his little town,” the chief wrote.
“This cup of coffee for a ‘pig’ is just another little flag. It’s another tiny symptom and a nearly indiscernible shout from a contemptuous, roaring and riotous segment of a misanthropic society that vilifies those who stand for what’s right and glorifies the very people who would usher in the destruction of the social fabric,” Chief O’Mara said. “It’s another tiny pinprick into the heart of men and women who are asking themselves more often: ‘Why am I doing this?’”
“Just pour the coffee please,” the chief railed. “Are we at a point where a task as simple as pouring an exceptionally overpriced cup of coffee is so complicated that it cannot be accomplished without ‘expressing oneself?’”
Chief O’Mara said that when he contacted the Glenpool Starbucks about the offensive labels, an employee told him “they’d be happy to ‘replace the coffee with a correct label.’”
“The proverb ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me’ came to mind,” he wrote in the post.
Chief O’Mara thanked all of the first responders who were working over the Thanksgiving holiday and offered some words of advice.
“If you’re looking for coffee use a place where you pour your own and you’re certain of what’s in it,” he wrote. “Stay safe; go home.”
Starbucks commented on the chief’s post on Thanksgiving night, calling the incident “totally unacceptable and offensive to all law enforcement.”
“We are deeply sorry and have apologized directly to the officer who experienced this,” the company wrote, adding that they would also like to apologize to the entire department directly.
“We have launched an internal investigation into this matter,” Starbucks added.
Chief O’Mara responded to the company on the same thread, and said he did not blame the corporation for the mistreatment his officer endured.
“You’re a corporation trying to sell a product,” he wrote. “I’m certain you don’t condone this kind of juvenile activity. The employee made an unfortunate decision which, in turn, negatively effects your company’s image.”
The employee who created the labels contacted the officer to apologize on the day of the incident, Chief O’Mara told KOTV.
She claimed that printing the word “PIG” on the officer’s order labels was intended to be a joke between her and one of her coworkers, according to the news outlet.
Starbucks said they were initially suspending the employee while they conducted an investigation into the incident.
“The barista has been suspended pending the outcome of our investigation into this matter,” a company spokesperson told KOTV. “This language is offensive to all law enforcement and is not representative of the deep appreciation we have for police officers who work to keep our communities safe."
Glenpool Starbuck’s manager Lola Price said she received a call from one of her supervisors later the same night.
"I was terminated from my position because Starbucks was looking for someone to take the blame for this and to save some face from their company," Price told KTUL. “[I’m] just still kind of in shock about it all.”
Price said she wasn’t the one who printed the offensive labels, and blamed the incident on one of the baristas who was working that day.
“They, to make it seem like they were right on top of everything, which they are, but they terminated me from my position with no cause," she told KTUL. "No sort of disciplinary action that I've ever received or any of that. I have no idea why they would terminate me from my position.”
Price, who held her managerial position for nine months, said she tried to fix the situation as soon as she learned about what occurred.
“He laughed it off, said it was cool, I handed him his blueberry muffin, and I went back off the floor to continue doing my shift manager duties,” she said of her interaction with the officer.
On Friday, Starbucks announced it had fired the employee responsible for creating the labels, but it was unclear whether the company was referring to Price or another employee.
"The Starbucks partner who wrote this offensive word on a cup used poor judgement and is no longer a partner after this violation of company policy,” the company said, according to KTUL.
Chief O’Mara said that his department and Starbucks representatives have met to explore options to bring people together, to include the company hosting a Coffee with a Cop event, KJRH reported.
“I believe Starbucks could take this as a learning opportunity and serve as a mentor to its young employees and impose upon them the importance of an employer’s rules and regulations and the importance of customer service,” the chief said.