Uniformed Officer Kicked Out Of Outback Steakhouse For Having A Gun

A uniformed Tennessee officer was asked to leave an Outback restaurant because he was carrying his duty weapon.

Cleveland, TN – A uniformed Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) officer said that Outback Steakhouse management asked him to leave the Cleveland restaurant on Friday night, because he refused to remove his duty weapon from their “gun free zone.”

TWRA Officer Andrew Ward explained the interaction in a Facebook post, and called the situation “a first.”

“While I was at work tonight (in uniform) I stopped by Outback Steakhouse to eat supper with my wife,” he wrote in the post. “I was approached by the manager and asked if I would put my gun in my truck. I let her know that I couldn’t because I was in uniform.”

Officer Ward said that the manager left for a moment to go make a phone call, but then soon returned to his table.

“We were asked to leave because Outback is a gun free zone,” Officer Ward wrote.

The officer defended the manager in his post, and seemed to recognize that she was delivering a message that was made by someone above her pay grade.

“I don’t blame the manager...but this is ridiculous and we will never go back there ever again,” Officer Ward continued. “What is this country coming to? A uniformed Law Enforcement Officer who is sworn to protect and serve the public, is refused service because they have a firearm! I am disgusted and have no other words!!!”

Approximately two hours later, Officer Ward posted an update on the situation.

“The manager has apologized...and stated a lady sitting next to our table felt scared for her life!” the officer wrote. “She said police are shooting people and she could have gotten shot in the parking lot and the manager had to walk...her and her husband to their vehicle.”

“Seriously she was scared for her life?” Officer Ward asked. “We were joking and laughing with our server as we ordered then prayed. What was scary about that?”

In addition to her apology, Officer Ward said the manager told him he would be receiving a $100 gift card, redeemable at multiple restaurants.

"We’ve always allowed uniformed law enforcement officers to carry their side arms inside our restaurants,” Outback’s parent company, Bloomin Brands, said in a statement to WTVC. “A manager made a mistake and we have discussed this with her. We have contacted the guest personally and apologized.”

“The amount of support our community has shown us is truly humbling,” Officer Ward said in a final post on the matter. “Outback has called and apologized to me and my family and we have truly accepted this apology. There was a mistake made and that’s it... we all make mistakes...and must move forward with our lives.”

"I have spoken with the manger involved, the regional manager and the Vice President of operations for Outback today,” the officer told WTVC in a text message.

“They have apologized profusely and I have accepted their apology and the issue in my opinion has been concluded,” he said.

Do you think that this incident will negatively affect your opinion of Outback Steakhouse? We'd like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments.

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Comments (71)
No. 1-50
CowGurlUP
CowGurlUP

That’s the biggest pile of bullshit!!!!! So instead of someone being there to protect from whatever asshole perp that comes in, maybe w a gun...they choose to have be stupid!!!

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

Just don't go there anymore. Snowflake response would be to take this to the press.

angryAmerican
angryAmerican

Sounds like someone "above the manager's pay grade" dumped the issue on to her! Someone else made the original decision. That's who needs to be identified and disciplined! Outback didn't figure on the bad publicity from the officer's online account!

DonaldDoo
DonaldDoo

The manager should have asked to woman to leave

Janet
Janet

I SAID THE other night to a gf, we should go to Outback next. Now, if an in uniformed officer can't sit beside me and enjoy his dinner, I'm not so sure. What do they want an officer to carry, a pea shooter?

CopsKidTwo
CopsKidTwo

No, informing the public that this insanity is going on is a good idea. Otherwise, we would be assuming that common sense ruled throughout the nation. Sadly, it is not. What kind of law-abiding individual would really claim that they're in fear of their life when an officer is sitting with his wife laughing and joking with the server? Talk about a petty snowflake who sounds like they either need to grow up, stop committing crimes, or go into therapy for their irrational response to an armed officer just being near them. I sure hope if a bad guy with a gun walks ever walks in, the manager can politely tell the perp that Outback is a gun free zone, and the bad guy will leave. Cause that's what all bad guys would do, right? These establishments claiming to be "gun free zones" are in actuality "Intelligence free zones." I plan on avoiding them. If they turn away officers, it's an even bigger reason to avoid them. I want someone to be able to fight back if a bad guy were to walk in with his gun.

cayman2020
cayman2020

I would have the snowflake to leave.

Mango
Mango

Too bad for the brainwashed lady customer. Personally, I would have enjoyed my meal more knowing that the officer was there.

Szrudy3
Szrudy3

Ok does that mean when they are called to the restaurant for police business, they take their guns off or maybe because it is a gun free zone they don't go in at all These are some question that came to mind Show me the facts or rules on this situation

Thinblueline
Thinblueline

No, the snowflake is the scared for their life complainer, I am glad the word is out, not that I would ever eat that garbage but now I wouldn’t go there just because of this! Clown

Szrudy3
Szrudy3

Maybe the brain dead businesses should advertise whether or not law enforcement can carry their weapons and let the customer decide

g72tinyh
g72tinyh

This guy sound like a professional s disturber. He is a wildlife officer not a police officer. What reg says a wildlife officer must carry outside of the state park? If he is on duty than get your a back in the park. He starts "While I was at work..." Tax payers paying him to leave the park and eat dinner? Non gov tax payers eat with family after work and pack a lunch.

libbie
libbie

It is all good. I was a little upset at first but outback did good. I have never been afraid of Cops so I am surprised when people are.

Thinblueline
Thinblueline

You sound like a professional idiot, who said he was “park ranger” wildlife officers don’t work in a park, he works in the state, and has law enforcement authority throughout the state enforcing wildlife laws. You’re An idiot.

Just-My-Thoughts
Just-My-Thoughts

I have in the past and would pay for the officers dinner. It's rewarding to do something for someone else as a thank you for all they do.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

@libbie "I have never been afraid of cops, so I'm surprised when people are."

This statement could be the start of VERY productive conversation. You stated your thoughts, then implied that others might not share them.

And believe me, those that don't maintain 100% unwavering trust in those directed to serve and protect wish we could, badly.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

@Szrudy3 no, stop imagining what you thought I said and read what I said.

It's a snowflake move to run to the press with this, instead of just not going there anymore.

crash972
crash972

Gun free zone. My family won't be eating there anymore.

mcoop
mcoop

once again a snowflake was offended and the world bows to there wishes and stops the world so they can get off in their safe space

Wlo487
Wlo487

First of all you need to get your facts straight. Wildlife officers Are Not Park Rangers. They have state wide authority on private lands and public lands. They usually have statewide authority and are peace officers with full arrest authority. With that said most wildlife law enforcement agencies pay their officers during their meal breaks just like a police department. They're still one call away from having to walk away from lunch or dinner.

Szrudy3
Szrudy3

I have met officers of the law of all kinds. I want to know who has these stupid rules, I don' want to give them a dime nor do I want to be robbed Stop pretending you are the only one with knowledge/ One of the rules that they do not enforce is the one saying , no drugs,

JTYLER5
JTYLER5

Outback is off my list of restaurants...and I was going to be going there this week to get theyr $15.99 steak & lobster tail. They won't miss my $15.95, but I hope a lot of people will give Outback no business. A police officer is exempt...and can go into any building. I have a license to carry, but I'm not able to go into any restaurant that has a NO FIREARMS sign on the door. Not allowed in a police stations with a weapon...post office and a few other places like schools, but cops are authorized to go anywhere...even schools...with their gun strapped on. Wait until an incident happens in one of these places...and nobody is there to protect the others from harm. I'd rather have an armed cop in any business.

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

@Szrudy3 say that again? I didn't understand.

GMMiller
GMMiller

Why because snowflakes like you are afraid of the truth?

Hi_estComnDenomn
Hi_estComnDenomn

@GMMiller that doesn't make sense.

What I said was, if cops are treated badly somewhere, they should not go. The cops acted like snowflakes by going to the press.

Your answer for that was "because I'm afraid of the truth?"

Read what I wrote again and answer in proper context.

Supportblue2nd
Supportblue2nd

Im a supporter of our Police,Military and the 2nd Amendment! These snowflakes need to get a life.It is ok for him to carry if he were protecting her though.It is because of people like that we wre no able to protect ourselves in public areas!

AngryOldMan
AngryOldMan

CrazyD 4th Point of Contact. Legs wont get that lol. Outback made good on it. Im more interested in what was left out of the story particularly the woman 'who feared for her life'. Thats your instigator and I suggest theres more to that being purposely ommited

mikepro729
mikepro729

I believe if it is a gun free zone, the officer should have left his gun in his vehicle. Police are not above the law and if the law states that it is a gun free zone, that should go for everybody!!

DrJeffreyP
DrJeffreyP

Mikepro729: It doesn't. Uniformed cops. Off duty cops who choose to carry are exempt from those laws. Many laws offer exceptions, almost none are 100% this way or that way.

satmantoo
satmantoo

I have this theory that the person who was in fear of their life because there was a police officer nearby was only using this as a scam to get a free dinner. Unless that heroin they forgot to leave in the car was making them nervous.

VocalPelican
VocalPelican

It was the company's policy, not the law. Therefore, the officer didn't place himself above the law, and, in this case, he abided by the company's policy as well.

K9cop37
K9cop37

It is unfortunate that the media, politicians, organizations and a few immoral police officers have created the dilemma we have today. 99% of the officers today just want to put on their uniform, go to work, and try to make a difference to keep their communities safe. A customer felt threatened by some preconceived notion that the officer would place them at risk. Police are not perfect. Mistakes are made or the bad apple gets missed or by some even ignored. This Officer that was mentioned did nothing wrong, The manager also did nothing wrong as she was just following her supervisor’s direction to keep her job. In the end, all was made right on both sides. Personally, I would not have accepted the gift card or I would have donated (with their permission) the gift card to a less fortunate family. The past can never be changed, let’s move forward to a better world. Just my opinion, Stay Safe !!!

RunCop
RunCop

The complaining customer must be some stupid liberal puke!

dlfleish58
dlfleish58

Any place that denies any officer, no matter what department that they work for, the person that denied the service should be fired, PERIOD. These people protect our lives, and shouldn't be penalized for some bad apples. There are far more good offices than bad, and like anyone, there are always bad. Should they just stop serving everyone? This manager made a mistake but talking one person's fear, which they were asses anyway, to affect someone else. The person that was fearful, if it was that bad should have got up and walked out, not complained to management that the office was carrying. It was great that Corp, made it good and apologized, if they didn't it would be a different story, and this Outback should have been shut down by no one ever going to it again, this is the only way this will stop. Hit them where it hurts, in the pocketbook. Make these companies wake up, make their employees countable when they refuse servers, fire their asses.

bronx163
bronx163

Hi_estComnDenomn
Thats funny. You cry like a little bitch that you are when people put you in your place. You black lives supporter and member.
Cops should of went out side and conducted saftey checkpoint right in front of the restaurant.

bronx163
bronx163

And go on social media hammering them.

TDWhitley
TDWhitley

The best place for such a customer who lives in this much unwarranted fear is in a state mental institution with a straight jacket.

Joe Public
Joe Public

This could have been handled so easily. The guest that was offended could have been asked to leave since they were the one in an uncomfortable position. If you are the one that finds yourself in an uncomfortable position that is legal and reasonable by normal standards, then you are the one that needs to remove yourself from that position.

BT750
BT750

Quick question, if this is a gun free zone? Did Outback have corporate policy on it & did they file with local authorities to do so? Also was any signs posted letter all customers/patrons know this?

djwn6363
djwn6363

"Gun Free Zone" is a notice to criminals that no one on the premises can defend against them. The criminal will be the only one with a gun. Do they really believe that a criminal who is intent on doing harm will abide by the restaurant's policy? "Gun Free Zone" policy is either extremely naive or extremely stupid. One bad person with a gun can take many lives. One good person with a gun can save many.

Bevkins
Bevkins

The customer had the option to leave and should have been told so. Afraid? Then leave. Personally, I would be appreciative of an officer being in a gun free zone, that is a target for criminals. Officers MUST carry their guns when in uniform and most carry out of uniform. They may have apologized, but too little too late. Off my list of shrinking places to go.

Bevkins
Bevkins

Wrong! Gun free zones do NOT apply to officers. Thank God, since a gun free zone is an open invitation to crime.

Kfmac50
Kfmac50

You should really check your facts before flapping your mouth. Wildlife officers do in fact have many of the same powers as police and are considered officers of the law. Don’t believe me, then just violate the law in front of one and find out for yourself.

OyoChick
OyoChick

If, in fact, Outback is a "gun-free" zone, I don't believe I'll be patronizing them at all... that being said, how do they know if people are carrying concealed? Answer: They don't know, and at any given time, I'm betting there's at least one or two firearms in the building.

rgletur
rgletur

Actually Fish and Wildlife Officers in most (if no all) states have the same powers and responsibilities as State Police, just with a different specialty. They are law officers and have an area to patrol. In some states they are actually a division of the State Police.

BiffCanlett
BiffCanlett

It seems to me that this was a simple mistake which has been corrected. If the officer is OK with the handling, so should be everyone else. That said, I would be very hesitant to enter any "gun free zone" other than the obvious, like courthouses and airports. The civilian good guys would honor the request, but not the bad guys !