Starbucks has issued an apology after six police officers were asked to leave one of its stores in Tempe, Arizona, on July 4 because a customer complained of not feeling “safe” with them there.
The officers were drinking coffee at the Starbucks before starting their shifts when an employee, who knew one of the officers because he was a regular, asked them to move out of the customer’s line of sight or leave, according to the Tempe Officers Association.
The barista told the officers that the unidentified customer “did not feel safe” in their presence, the police union said in a statement on Twitter.
The officers left.
“This treatment of public safety workers could not be more disheartening,” the union said. “While the barista was polite, making such a request at all was offensive. Unfortunately, such treatment has become all too common in 2019.”
Starbucks on Sunday issued an apology to the Tempe Police Department and called the incident “completely unacceptable.”
“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,” said Rossann Williams, Starbucks’ executive vice president and president of its U.S. retail operations.
Williams, who has offered to meet with Tempe officers Sunday evening, said the chain is taking “the necessary steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again in the future.”
The company has not said what, if any, disciplinary action the employee faces.