Police officers put their lives on the line to ensure the safety of both the communities they serve and their citizens. This is why a KFC outlet in Ohio decided to stick a sign on its front door welcoming uniformed police officers to eat for free. But when the charitable sign went viral, so did the praise and backlash.
This KFC store in Gallipolis, Ohio, is committed to honoring police officers in their own way—with free chicken. That’s when they decided to print out a sign stating, “All uniformed police officers eat free everyday all day.”
But after a photo of the sign was posted on the Ohio Going Blue Facebook page, the offer was met with not only gratitude but also criticism.
This was spotted at the KFC in Gallipolis, Ohio!Gallipolis Police Department
While most people responded with praise, there was a bit of debate about why the store didn’t include the military and veterans.
One netizen questioned the sign, “What about the other first responders?”
However, one former first responder wrote: “If the owner of this establishment chooses to provide free meals to anyone that is his choice. It is his profits, his business, and his decision only. I respect for what he has done. Rather than trying to find reasons to tear people down for what they are doing, find reasons and ways to help embellish upon their actions to make it so that everyone gets respect. Stop looking at the negative and build upon the positive. As a former first responder for over 30 years I never once looked for a free meal or handout. I respected those people who chose to give it to us but never once asked for it.”
Later, the Ohio Going Blue Facebook Page wrote:
“This is a positive post, but some of you can’t see the bigger picture. As an officer, I do not go into any establishment expecting [or] wanting ANYTHING to be free or … even a discount, whether I’m in uniform or not, and I can tell you other officers feel the same way. We don’t like ‘special treatment.’ The fact is that KFC is acknowledging law enforcement, which is why this was posted. To those who stated that other first responders should also be acknowledged. My answer? ABSOLUTELY.”
And the police officers are clearly grateful.
“Law enforcement across the country from Miami, California, and different agencies, calling us just to thank us for what we’re doing for our local law enforcement,” said Doug Knipp, Gallipolis KFC franchise owner. “We’re hoping this catches on and hopefully goes nationwide.”
Knipp revealed that he’s offering free meals to the police at his other KFC outlets as well, including Huntington, West Virginia; Pikeville, Kentucky; Ashland, Kentucky; Grayson, Kentucky; Hazard, Kentucky; Burlington, Ohio; Gallipolis, Ohio; Jackson, Kentucky; Prestonsburg, Kentucky; Morehead, Kentucky; Wayne, West Virginia; Paintsville, Kentucky; and Louisa, Kentucky.
One KFC employee responded to the post: “Yes we feed police officers for free EVERYDAY!!! I work at the Russell KY KFC!! We honor our protectors!! Now we need to give free dinners or food to the veterans also!! I am going to bring it to their attention next time I see the owner’s.”
Knipp stated his dedication to the initiative and hopes the movement will catch on.
“It’s what’s going on in our country today that we all need everybody’s help and we want to step up,” he said.
To law enforcement, Knipp said: “You guys are putting your life on the line for us. Any time you’re on duty, it’s just our way of saying thank you.”
In response to those who weren’t happy with the sign, the KFC outlet stated: “Too bad. It stays up.”
The police are grateful for the gesture. Ashland Police Chief Todd Kelley told WSAZ this is not only a kind gesture toward officers but will also help improve community-police relations.
“Our ability to get out and work with the community and them work with us, it’s a two way street,” Kelley told WSAZ. “We’re very appreciative he’s [Knipp] taken the initiative, the first big step, in partnering with us.”
Kelley said one of his missions is to get his officers out in the community more. He was just recently promoted to chief. To further the community-police relations, Kelley hopes people will stop by and talk to the officers at KFC—whether it’s to talk about a problem, ask a question, or even just ask for directions. The police are there to help the community and he hopes this is only the beginning.
“Hopefully that will initiate other partnerships within the community,” Kelley said.
Customers in support of KFC’s decision also find the police presence reassuring.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” a customer told WSAZ. “I know it makes you feel safer to come and eat, I can tell you that.”
Despite the debate, it’s certainly a thoughtful act of appreciation toward law enforcement.
So, what are your thoughts on this initiative?