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Starbucks Does It Again: Apologizes After Employees Allegedly Treat Law Enforcement With Disrespect

By  Hank Berrien
Starbucks coffee mugs are for sale inside a Starbucks Coffee shop in Washington, DC, April 17, 2018.
Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

According to the Riverside County, California, sheriff’s department, two of its deputies were refused service at a Starbucks location on the evening of December 12. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department tweeted the next day, “#StarbucksIncident We are aware of the ‘cop with no coffee’ incident that occurred in Riverside on 12/12/19, involving our @RSO deputies. We are in communication w@Starbucks Corporate addressing the issue of deputies being denied service #copwithnocoffee #Starbucks.”

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco added, “The anti police culture repeatedly displayed by Starbucks employees must end.”

Starbucks issued a statement apologizing for the actions of its employees, saying, “This language is offensive to all law enforcement and is not representative of the deep appreciation we have for police officers who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe,” as ABC News reported. Starbucks claimed that the deputies were in uniform. Near midnight on Thursday, employees did not refuse to serve them but did ignore them for roughly five minutes.

Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Borges stated, “There is simply no excuse for how the two deputies were ignored. We’re deeply sorry for that.” He added, “We really want to connect with the two deputies, apologize directly, and hear their stories. We take full responsibility for any intentional or unintentional disrespect to law enforcement.”

On Thanksgiving Day, in an incident that made national headlines, one Oklahoma police officer working that day got a rude surprise when he visited Starbucks to get coffee as a thank-you for the dispatchers who work with him: the cup he was given, instead of having his name on it, was labeled “Pig.” Johnny O’Mara, Chief of Police in Kiefer, Oklahoma, recounted the incident on Facebook along with a picture, writing:

My officer goes to Starbucks to get the dispatchers coffee as a thank you for all they do (especially when they’re working a holiday.) This is what he gets for being nice. What irks me is the absolute and total disrespect for a police officer who, instead of being home with family and enjoying a meal and a football game, is patrolling his little town.

O’Mara continued, “This cup of coffee for a ‘pig’ is just another little flag. It’s another tiny symptom and a nearly indiscernible shout from a contemptuous, roaring and riotous segment of a misanthropic society that vilifies those who stand for what’s right and glorifies the very people who would usher in the destruction of the social fabric. It’s another tiny pinprick into the heart of men and women who are asking themselves more often: ‘Why am I doing this?’”

O’Mara then reflected on the employee’s need to make their feelings about cops known: “Just pour the coffee, please. Are we at a point where a task as simple as pouring an exceptionally overpriced cup of coffee is so complicated that it cannot be accomplished without ‘expressing oneself?’”

O’Mara said he called the Starbucks and was informed they would make amends, that they would be happy to “replace the coffee with a correct label.” O’Mara commented, “The proverb ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me’ came to mind.”

O’Mara concluded with a note of gratitude for his staff that worked on Thanksgiving: “Thank you, first responders, for risking it all this Thanksgiving away from your families. If you’re looking for coffee use a place where you pour your own and you’re certain of what’s in it. Stay safe; go home.”

Starbucks later issued an official statement:

This is absolutely unacceptable, and we are deeply sorry to the law enforcement officer who experienced this. We have also apologized directly to him and connected with the Chief of the Kiefer Police Department as well to express our remorse. The Starbucks partner who wrote this offensive word on a cup used poor judgement and is no longer a partner after this violation of company policy.

This language is offensive to all law enforcement and is not representative of the deep appreciation we have for police officers who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe.



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