On July 4, a group of officers from the Tempe Police Department claimed they were asked to leave a local Starbucks following a customer complaint regarding their presence. The Tempe Officers Association tweeted about the incident, and it went viral sparking the hashtag #dumpStarbucks.
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 pic.twitter.com/oGaDKhlYX3
— Tempe Officers Association (@ToaAz) July 5, 2019
A barista, who knew one of the officers by name, told the group that a customer “didn’t feel comfortable” and requested that they move out of the customer’s sight or leave the premises.
According to the officers, they frequented the location regularly and ordered their beverages before the start of their shift on Thursday. Rather than ask the customer why he or she didn’t feel comfortable, Tempe police officers chose to leave. Ironically, the customer who complained was white.
The Tempe Police Department issued a statement saying that their officers do their best to interact with members of the community positively.
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In response to the numerous requests for comment regarding Tempe Police Officers being asked to leave Starbucks on July 4th, 2019 attached is the statement on behalf of the Tempe Police Department. pic.twitter.com/biTc4eTqTy
— Tempe Police Department (@TempePolice) July 6, 2019
Some people voiced concerns online about the perceived hostility towards police officers, but many others highlighted their distrust of the Tempe Police Department where 14-year-old Antonio Arce was shot dead earlier this year by officers from the department.
Maybe you should be focusing on the fact that your officers are making citizens feel unsafe instead of safe, like they're supposed to.
— JD-Molls (@MamaMolly2018) July 6, 2019
We don’t appreciate many officers who don’t live up to wearing the badge. Phoenix June 2019 for example.
You can’t whip out the woe is me card just because your officers. Respect is earned never given. The good officers must step up and call out the bad officers.
— James Scott #MyViews (@Jscott1145) July 6, 2019
Wow. The customers didn’t feel safe with the police there? What ??? If that were the case, the complainers should have left. Not the other way around! This is just shameful. 👎
— Diane 🇺🇸🌺@NoMoreViolence (@DianeNoMoreLies) July 6, 2019
It’s a delicate line to navigate when there have been so many incidents of police not protecting citizens or forging relationships in the community. In this situation, Tempe police officers opted to run away instead of taking the time to find out why distrust of law enforcement exists.
Eventually, Starbucks did apologize for the barista’s request.
Starbucks Executive Vice President, Rossann Williams released a statement to the Tempe Police Department about the incident.
“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,” Williams said. “I will be in Tempe this evening and welcome the opportunity to meet with any of you in person to address concerns or questions.”
On Sunday, a spokesperson for the Tempe Officers Association said it was “encouraged that Starbucks has reached out to our organization and the Tempe Police Department to apologize and to further express their support for law enforcement. We hope that out of this unfortunate moment there comes a welcome dialogue, one that more closely unites the men and women on the frontlines of police work with the communities we serve and protect.”
Now that Starbucks has tried to reconcile its “mistake,” the Tempe Police Department should follow that standard by having open roundtable discussions with members of its community so that they may feel “comfortable” when its officers are present.