The alleged incident happened on July 4.
According to the Tempe Officers Association, six Tempe Police Department officers stopped at a Starbucks in the city for coffee on Thursday.
After paying for their drinks, the officers “stood together having a cup of coffee before their long Fourth of July shift,” the association said. “They were approached by a barista, who knew one of the officers by name, because he is a regular at that location. The barista said that a customer ‘did not feel safe’ because of the police presence.”
Don’t appreciate @Starbucks asking our #Tempe cops to leave your establishment on the #4thofjuly2019. Several of those cops are #veterans who fought for this country! #ZeroRespect pic.twitter.com/oGaDKhlYX3
— Tempe Officers Association (@ToaAz) July 5, 2019
“The barista asked the officers to move out of the customer’s line of sight or to leave. Disappointed, the officers did in fact leave,” the association added.
It then criticized Starbucks for what happened.
“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,” the association stated.
Rob Ferraro, president of the association, said that people shouldn’t necessarily boycott Starbucks over what happened but called what happened “perplexing.”
“It’s become accepted to not trust or to see police and think that we’re not here to serve you, and again, it goes back to—we take great pride of the level of customer service we provide to citizens, and to be looked at as feeling unsafe when you have law enforcement around you is somewhat perplexing to me,” Ferraro told Fox 10.
Starbucks responded to the alleged incident, saying it was investigating.
“We have a deep respect for the Tempe Police and their service to the community,” Reggie Borges, a spokesperson for Starbucks, told the Arizona Republic.
“We’ve reached out to the Tempe Police Department and Tempe Officers Association to better understand what happened and apologize. We want everyone in our stores to feel welcomed and the incident described is not indicative of what we want any of our customers to feel in our stores.”
— Ted Greene (@aztedgreene) July 6, 2019
A number of social media users reacting to the news responded negatively to the barista’s reported actions.
“Sad state in America when Police are asked to leave @Starbucks because customers were uncomfortable?” wrote Paul Babeu, a former sheriff in Arizona.
“I hope the Tempe police, their families, and all those who support the police officers never set foot in that Starbucks again,” wrote another user.
Others, though, said they supported the customer who complained.
“I honestly get uncomfortable when I see a single cop in a space I normally feel comfortable in. Glad someone said something and they were asked to leave,” wrote one Twitter user. “Starbucks is ‘looking into it,’ but they oughta give a raise to whoever made that decision. The reality of our world is that where cops go, death follows. People are right to be afraid.”