Riverside, CA – The Riverside County sheriff has accused Starbucks employees of refusing service to two of his deputies on Thursday night.
The incident occurred at about 11 p.m. on Dec. 13 when two female deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department stopped to get coffee on duty at the Starbucks located on University Avenue in Riverside, KTLA reported.
Blue Lives Matter initially reached out to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department who initially denied the incident had involved their deputies.
After Blue Lives Matter contacted Starbucks, they quickly reviewed the in-store security footage and confirmed that there were two female deputies in their store in the last hour they were open on Thursday night, according to a corporate spokesperson.
However, the spokesperson said that footage showed a gross example of poor customer service when the store was really busy rather than an intentional snub of law enforcement.
“There is simply no excuse for how two Riverside deputies were ignored for nearly 5 minutes at our store on Thursday evening,” Starbucks said in a statement. “We are deeply sorry and reached out to apologize directly to them. We take full responsibility for any intentional or unintentional disrespect shown to law enforcement on whom we depend every day to keep our stores and communities safe. No customer, in or out of uniform, should ever have that experience at a Starbucks.”
The Starbucks spokesperson said they were continuing to investigate the incident and were hoping to talk to the affected deputies directly to apologize.
“The partners [employees] who worked that evening will not be scheduled to work while we investigate and take the appropriate steps,” the Starbucks statement read.
Despite Starbucks’ apology and assurances that the video evidence of the incident simply indicated poor customer service, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco took to Twitter to lambaste the coffee company.
“#StarbucksIncident We are aware of the “cop with no coffee” incident that occurred in Riverside on 12/12/19, involving our @RSO deputies. We are in communication w/ @starbucks Corporate addressing the issue of deputies being denied service. #copwithnocoffee #starbucks ,” the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department initially tweeted.
Forty minutes later, the sheriff jumped online to declare Starbucks was anti-police.
“Two of our deputies were refused service at Starbucks. The anti police culture repeatedly displayed by Starbucks employees must end,” Sheriff Bianco tweeted.
Late Friday night, the sheriff went to the Starbucks in question and gave Steve Johnson, who runs a community Facebook page, an interview.
“The facts are undisputed in this case,” Sheriff Bianco said. “Two of our deputies went into a Starbucks in Riverside and they were ignored for a long period of time. They weren’t exactly sure how long, five minutes, 10 minutes, they think maybe it may even have been longer than that. But the bottom line, they tried to get served.”
“They asked if anyone was going to help them,” the sheriff continued. “They were laughed at and they were completely ignored, obviously ignored, to where other patrons knew they were being ignored.”
He told Steve Johnson the deputies left and went elsewhere for their coffee and commended their judgment.
When asked about the company's investigation determining it was a poor customer service issue, the sheriff disagreed.
“They’re doing corporate damage control. They want to downplay what happened,” Sheriff Bianco insisted.
The Riverside County Sheriff's Office did not return calls from Blue Lives Matter after they initially denied on Friday morning that it was their deputies involved in the incident.