TEMPE, AZ — A group of six Tempe police officers were reportedly asked to leave by a barista at Starbucks.
The incident is said to have happened on July 4, at the Starbucks location off of Scottsdale and McKellips roads.
A statement from the Tempe Officers Association says the officers paid for their drinks and were standing together inside the coffee shop. A barista then approached the group, and said that they were making a customer “feel uncomfortable.”
The officers were allegedly asked to move out of the customer’s sight, or to leave.
The officers chose to leave the establishment at that time.
In a statement, the Tempe Officers Association says they know this is not a national Starbucks policy:
“This treatment of public safety workers could not be more disheartening. While the barista was polite, making such a request at all was offensive. Unfortunately, such treatment has become all too common in 2019. We know this is not a national policy at Starbucks Corporate and we look forward to working collaboratively with them on this important dialogue.”
In response, the Tempe Police Department said it had been in touch with Starbucks' corporate office about what happened:
"It is our hope that the incident which occurred at Starbucks was an isolated incident between one community member and a single employee rather than an entire organization," a department spokesperson said. "Starbucks stated they are aware of this incident and advised this interaction is not in line with Starbucks values and will continue to work in strengthening their relationship with law enforcement."
A corporate employee with Starbucks says it is looking into what led up to the incident and that the company has a deep respect for police and the service they do for the community.
On Saturday afternoon, Rossann Williams, Executive Vice President, President U.S. Retail of Starbucks issued an apology to the Tempe Police Department, saying in part:
"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. 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."
On Sunday, Sergeant Rob Ferraro, president of the Tempe Officers Association said:
"We would like to thank the public for the overwhelming support shown to our officers in the aftermath of this unfortunate incident. We are encouraged that Starbucks has reached out to our organization and to the Tempe Police Department to apologize and to further express their support of law enforcement. "We hope that out of this unfortunate incident 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."
“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.” Read more: https://t.co/BC5dEon56E – Rossann Williams, executive vice president, president U.S. Retail— Starbucks Stories (@Starbucksnews) July 7, 2019
Tempe police responded via Twitter, saying the situation has "been an opportunity to strengthen our communal relationship."