Starbucks issued a formal apology to several Arizona police officers after they were kicked out of a store when a customer complained about their presence.
According to the Tempe Officers Association, six officers left the coffee shop after a barista told them that a customer “did not feel safe” with them in the store. The officers were reportedly asked to move out of the customer’s line of sight or to leave. They chose to leave.
“This treatment of public safety workers could not be more disheartening,” the association said. “While the barista was polite, making such a request at all was offensive. Unfortunately, such treatment has become all too common in 2019.”
Rossann Williams, a vice president at the coffee chain, apologized for the “unacceptable” reaction.
“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 in a statement. “Instead, they were made to feel unwelcome and disrespected, which is completely unacceptable.”
The incident inspired the hashtag #DumpStarbucks to trend on Twitter with people both encouraging support for law enforcement as well as explaining how an officer’s presence can make others feel uncomfortable.
[Read Starbucks’ full statement here:
Dear Chief Moir and the entire Tempe Police Department,
Thank you, Chief Moir, for the conversation today. 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.
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). Instead, they were made to feel unwelcome and disrespected, which is completely unacceptable.
At Starbucks, we have deep appreciation for your department and the officers who serve the Tempe community. Our partners rely on your service and welcome your presence, which keeps our stores and the community a safe and welcoming place.
Our strong relationship with the Tempe Police Department has provided us the opportunity to host several “Coffee with a Cop” events in area stores, which bring residents and police together to discuss relevant issues and find common ground. We look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationship with you, and we agree that the experience of your officers requires an important dialogue – one that we are committed to being part of.
What occurred in our store on July 4 is never the experience your officers or any customer should have, and at Starbucks, we are already taking the necessary steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again in the future.
I will be in Tempe this evening and welcome the opportunity to meet with any of you in person to address concerns or questions.
executive vice president, president U.S. Retail
Starbucks Coffee Company
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