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)
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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 !

No. 51-71
ElMirage34
ElMirage34

Outback will never see me or my family again. They can't hire intelligent personnel, one can only imagine how they are handling the food. Outback can go to Hell. Imagine, not serving an uniformed LEO because some donkey is "afraid". What next?

Roninlion
Roninlion

The Gun free zone is nothing more than a company rule which the officer respected. I hope that when he receives his gift card he takes it to the nearest gang banger on the corner and gives it to him or her so outback can serve the kind of clientele it seems to want.

sturnman22
sturnman22

Outback recognized & apologized for the mistake. I see no malice and neither does the involved Officer so I accept the settlement as a patron of their restaurants.

RL1
RL1

I am ALWAYS glad to see ANY uniformed law enforcement person in an establishment where I am. These people who are saying negative things about his carrying his weapon really should check the rules and regulations for on duty law enforcement personnel. In most communities they are required to carry a weapon even when OFF duty and out in public.

Frank97230
Frank97230

Gun Free Zone in a restaurant is NOT a law . The manager ought to be fired !