Tempe, AZ – Starbucks has issued a response to the six officers who were booted out of one of their Tempe shops on Independence Day after a customer said they “did not feel safe” in the officers’ presence.
According to the Tempe Officers Association (TOA), the Fourth of July incident took place at the Starbucks shop located at McKellips and Scottsdale Road.
The six Tempe police officers paid for their orders and were standing together enjoying their coffee when they were suddenly interrupted by the barista, the TOA said in a Facebook post.
One of the officers is a “regular” at the shop, and the barista addressed him by name.
The barista then told the group that one of the customers complained that they “did not feel safe” with the officers inside the business, and “asked the officers to move out of the customer’s line of sight or to leave,” according to the post.
“Disappointed, the officers did in fact leave,” the TOA added.
The union blasted Starbucks for the way the officers were treated, and noted that “several” of the officers involved in the incident “are veterans who fought for this country,” according to another Facebook post.
The TOA also posted an altered image of the Starbucks logo, which depicted a hand pouring out a cup of liquid, accompanied by the words, “Dump Starbucks.”
“This treatment of public safety workers could not be more disheartening,” the police association noted. “While the barista was polite, making such a request at all was offensive. Unfortunately, such treatment has become all too common in 2019.”
The TOA said it also recognized that Starbucks Corporate does not have a “national policy” requiring employees to ask uniformed law enforcement officers to leave their stores, and said it was “looking forward to working collaboratively with them on this important dialogue.”
News of the incident was shared widely on social media, leading to the hashtag #DumpStarbucks, CNN reported.
“We have reached out to the Tempe police department to try to better understand what took place and apologize for any misunderstandings or inappropriate behavior that may have taken place,” Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges told WVLT.
“We work with them a lot on events, like Coffee with a Cop, in our stores and we have a great relationship with them, so we are surprised that something like this may have taken place,” Borges said at the time.
“I just want them to understand how much we value them and what they bring to the community,” he added. “It is too early to say what type of ramifications employees will face, if any. But we want it to be known that everyone who walks into our store should feel welcomed and embraced and to have the best Starbucks experience – and when that doesn’t happen, that is not indicative of the kind of welcoming environment that we want to provide.”
The Tempe Police Department (TPD) also reached out to Starbucks’ corporate office about the incident, and were told that the way the officers were treated was “not in line with Starbucks values,” WVLT reported.
Starbucks Executive Vice President Rossann Williams issued a public apology to TPD on Saturday following a conversation with Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir.
“On behalf of Starbucks, I want to sincerely apologize to you all for the experience that six of your officers had in our store on July 4,” Williams wrote.
She noted that the company has a “deep appreciation” for TPD, and said that the way they were treated was “completely unacceptable.”
“When those officers entered the store and a customer raised a concern over their presence, they should have been welcomed and treated with dignity and the utmost respect by our partners [employees],” Williams said. “Instead, they were made to feel unwelcome and disrespected, which is completely unacceptable.”
“Our partners rely on your service and welcome your presence, which keeps our stores and the community a safe and welcoming place,” she added.
Williams said that the company is committed to “continuing to strengthen” the “strong relationship” it has with TPD, through events such as “Coffee with a Cop.”
Those gatherings are especially important, because they “bring residents and police together to discuss relevant issues and find common ground,” she explained.
Williams said that the company is “already taking the necessary steps” to make sure that the way the officers were treated on Independence Day never happens again.
She also made arrangements to fly to Tempe to speak with Chief Moir in person, according to the statement.
On Sunday, TOA President Sergeant Rob Ferraro released a statement thanking the public for the “overwhelming support” they showed TPD in the wake of the incident, KTVK reported.
"We hope that out of this unfortunate incident there comes a welcome dialogue, one that more closely unites the men and women on the frontlines of police work with the communities we serve and protect,” Sgt. Ferraro said.
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