Five police officers were drinking coffee at a Starbucks location before the start of their shift when a barista asked them to either move out of the line of sight of a customer or leave the premises. The customer had complained that they “did not feel safe” with the officers in the dining area.
The incident took place at a Tempe, Arizona Starbucks on the Fourth of July, according to a report by Fox News. The customer told a Starbucks employee that they didn’t feel safe with the officers inside of the restaurant.
After receiving the complaint, a barista asked the officers to either move to an area where the customer couldn’t see them or leave the restaurant.
Tempe Officers Association president Rob Ferraro discussed the incident, which he says is becoming more common.
“It’s become accepted to not trust or to see police and think that we’re not here to serve you, and again, it goes back to — we take great pride of the level of customer service we provide to citizens, and to be looked at as feeling unsafe when you have law enforcement around you is somewhat perplexing to me,” said Ferraro.
The police union also posted messages on Twitter about the incident.
“This treatment of public safety workers could not be more disheartening,” said the union. “While the barista was polite, making such a request at all was offensive. Unfortunately, such treatment has become all too common in 2019.”
The union asserted that it doesn’t blame Starbucks at a corporate level, adding that it looks forward “to working collaboratively with them on this important dialogue.”
On Friday, the union also posted a tweet that included a parody version of the Starbucks logo, featuring the words “Dump Starbucks.”
A Starbucks spokesperson confirmed that the company is investigating the incident.
“We have a deep respect for the Tempe Police and their service to the community,” said Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Borges. “We’ve reached out to the Tempe Police Department and Tempe Officers Association to better understand what happened and apologize. We want everyone in our stores to feel welcomed and the incident described is not indicative of what we want any of our customers to feel in our stores.”