Statesville, NC – A uniformed Iredell County sheriff’s deputy was turned away from a Kay Jewelers store on Wednesday because he was carrying his duty weapon, according to the sheriff.
The deputy went to the store on his lunch break after being notified that the engagement ring he purchased for his upcoming wedding proposal was ready to be picked up, Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell said in a Facebook post.
He pulled up at the Turnersburg Highway store in his marked patrol vehicle, but was intercepted at the front door by the Kay Jewelers manager.
The manager then “informed him he was not allowed to wear his service weapon while on their premises,” Sheriff Campbell said.
The deputy explained that he was in uniform and on his break, pointed out his patrol car, and told him “it would be a violation of [department] policy for him to remove his service weapon while in uniform,” the sheriff said.
The Iredell County Sheriff’s Office (ICSO) requires uniformed deputies to carry their duty weapons “not only [for] the safety of the deputy, but the general public as well,” Sheriff Campbell noted.
But the store manager refused to allow the deputy to come inside to pick up the ring he’d already paid for.
“The manager stated our deputy would need to return to the store at a different time when he was not armed,” the sheriff’s post read. “The deputy left the store, without the ring he had purchased.”
Sheriff Campbell said he and his department are “deeply saddened” by what occurred.
“The reaction our deputy encountered is very difficult for us to comprehend, and we earnestly hope situations such as these are few and are diminishing,” he said. “Thank you to the citizens and businesses in our area who whole heartily support the men and women who wear the badge.”
Kay Jewelers’ corporate office had not returned any of the sheriff’s “numerous” calls as of the time of his post, he noted.
The company did respond to the Facebook post, and issued an apology to the deputy and ICSO.
“Kay Jewelers is reaching out to the customer and the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office to sincerely apologize for the mishandling of this matter,” the company’s comment read. “We have tremendous respect for law enforcement, and we thank the Office for bringing this to our attention.”
Kay Jewelers also said it will be reinforcing employee training regarding the company’s firearm policy, especially as it pertains to uniformed law enforcement officers.
Sheriff Campbell said he was still awaiting a call from the corporate office on Wednesday night, WBTV reported.
“It’s not just an attack on this individual officer, it’s not just an attack on this agency. It’s an attack on law enforcement in general,” Sheriff Campbell said.
The ICSO has received a tremendous amount of support in the wake of the incident, including thousands of Facebook comments denouncing the way the deputy was treated.
Some other jewelry stores have even offered the deputy other rings, WJZY reported.
“We’ve had numerous rings offered through email,” Sheriff Campbell confirmed. “They are in total support of that officer.”