Tempe, Arizona Police Asked to Leave Starbucks After Customer Complains About Being Uncomfortable

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.

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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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.

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.

 

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