Starbucks Ejects Uniformed Police Officers After Customer ‘Didn’t Feel Safe’

A Starbucks logo hangs over a store entrance in Washington, DC June 11, 2019. (Photo by EVA HAMBACH / AFP) (Photo credit should read EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)
EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images

A Tempe, Arizona, Starbucks ejected a group of six uniformed police officers who were enjoying their morning coffee because one customer complained to the management that they “didn’t feel safe” with the police officers present.

The Tempe Officers Association was not happy at the coffee house’s move and tweeted about the incident on July 5, Fox News reported.

“Don’t appreciate @Starbucks asking our #Tempe cops to leave your establishment on the #4thofjuly2019. Several of those cops are #veterans who fought for this country! #ZeroRespect,” the organization tweeted.

The group followed up with a series of tweets to give more context to the incident:

A statement from the TOA on The July 4th incident and Starbucks’ treatment of police officers:

Yesterday, on Independence Day, six Tempe police officers stopped by the Starbucks at Scottsdale Road and McKellips for coffee. The officers paid for their drinks and stood together, having a cup of coffee before their long 4th of July shift. They were approached by a barista, who knew one of the officers by name because he is a regular at that location. The barista said that a customer “did not feel safe” because of the police presence. The barista asked the officers to move out of the customer’s line of sight or to leave.

Disappointed, the officers did, in fact, leave.

This treatment of public safety workers could not be more disheartening. While the barista was polite, making such a request at all was offensive. Unfortunately, such treatment has become all too common in 2019.

We know this is not a national policy at Starbucks Corporate and we look forward to working collaboratively with them on this important dialogue.

According to AZFamily, Starbucks corporate tried to smooth things over and released a statement saying it “values” the police:

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.

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.

I just want them to understand how much we value them and what they bring to the community.

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 also released a statement on the incident:

The Tempe Police Department values relationships with our community and will always attempt to positively engage with our residents, businesses, and visitors who come to Tempe.

It is our hope that the incident which occurred at Starbucks was an isolated incident between one community member and a single employee rather than an entire organization.

Since this incident came to light, the Tempe Police Department has reached out to the Starbucks Corporate Office. Starbucks stated they are aware of this incident and advised this interaction is not in line with Starbucks values and will continue to work in strengthening their relationship with law enforcement.

Police officers make great sacrifices to keep their communities safe during holidays such as the Fourth of July, so others can enjoy the day with their family and friends. The Tempe Police Department will continue at all times to reduce harm within our community.

The Tempe shop’s action brought renewed focus of the Twitter hashtag #BoycottStarbucks as thousands of tweets calling for an economic boycott of the coffee chain were posted.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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