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Refusals to Serve Police Officers at Restaurants Draw Concern

October 08, 2015  | 

In multiple recent incidents across the country, police officers have been denied service in some form — food, access to restrooms — by employees. Local news and social media quickly helped publicize the interactions, and often the franchise owner, if not the larger company, ended up apologizing (and giving police officers free meals), reports the New York Times.

Some say that these incidents alone signal a shifting attitude toward law enforcement officials among service industry workers. Samuel Walker, a criminologist and professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha known for his focus on police civil rights abuses, said that the change was a reaction to publicized police misconduct.

"I think it's wrong," Mr. Walker said. "If you've got some criticism of police, this is not the way to do it."

But Dennis Slocumb, the vice president emeritus of the International Union of Police Associations, was unsure whether the incidents constituted a trend.

A Gallup survey conducted in June showed that confidence in the police nationally is "the lowest that it's been in 22 years," though it pointed out that, overall, 52 percent of people expressed "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in the police.

Slocumb said that, even if an action was expressly political, it was not worth making a fuss over.

"If somebody wrote black lives matter on my cup, I wouldn't get all exercised," he said. "I would prefer that somebody refuse to serve me than do something to my food."


Comments (9)

Displaying 1 - 9 of 9

Bob peterson @ 10/8/2015 5:45 PM

If a business refuses police then make sure they and their employees have good unexpired tags,they don't run the stop sign,etc. put the business address out to all depts so they won't use the business. Don't put up with it. It's time to turn the tide.

kevCopAz @ 10/8/2015 6:07 PM

This IS a big deal Mr. Slocumb, if you lead a Union organization then do your job and support us. Every Union nationwide should publicly list each and every one of these companies who have refused PD service and make it clear that every officer, as well as friends and families, will no longer support those businesses until it is made plainly clear that this nonsense must stop. I realize that these are rouge employees for the most part, but those companies have to make it clear that if an employee does this to police (or anyone for that matter without due lawful cause) then not only they, but the manager on duty as well as the store/business manager will be terminated immediately. Once this is set in stone, then we (cops families etc) will return our patronage to these enterprizes and not a minute sooner. If this becomes a nationwide policy, both PD boycoting & businesses making clear policy changes, then this will end. PD unions, folks like you Mr Slocumb get off ur ass do your job!

AZBIGDOG @ 10/9/2015 7:25 AM

Sounds as if they do not want officers at their business. Make it a point to park near the site during shift changes, get to know the employees vehicles and their habits. Issue tickets for traffic and other violations, no more giving them a break because you recognize them. And pass the word that they do not want officer's business and that it could be possible that food tampering may occur due to their hatred of officers.

S.S. @ 10/9/2015 9:04 AM

The writer of this article is wrong. It should matter, and Im sure it does to the officer's that have had this done to them. It's a slap in the face for all of us LEO's. I can only imagine how embarassed and pissed the officer felt. I wouldn't handle it the way some might, by watching the workers or making sure they don't have expired tags. I would just let all my co-workers know, and for them to advise family and friends, to boycott the business. I would also inform the media, and contct the owner, or CEO, and see how they feel about this so-called policy of theirs that their employees took it upon themselves to make. I agre with kevcop, it is a big deal. This is one reason that I either take my lunch with me to work, or just go to subway and watch them make my sandwich.

Chu @ 10/9/2015 9:22 AM

Definitely not easy to take the high road when you are hungry. I have yet to experience being refused service, but I am mentally preparing myself for it. I thought to make sure to be courteous and make sure that it is that particular employee's issue and not a corporate/business owner issue. Not a good practice to blast a company for one (minimum wage earning) knucklehead's misdeeds (ahem, exercising their freedoms). Isn't that the same thing that happens to us at times, and we all suffer when some of the paint from those broad brushes falls on us? Avoid knee-jerk retaliation. It only makes us look like petty little kids. Rise to the top of the muck, brothers and sisters.

Arby @ 10/9/2015 2:18 PM

I admit these stories rile me up too. I'm not sure if it is enough to be classified as a trend, but it is being reported more. Copycats come in all stripes. They see it on the news, get emboldened, and try it themselves to the point where it can certainly become a trend. Now how to respond is another matter. If they refuse my business - fine. I take my business elsewhere and convince co-workers, other agencies, friends and relatives not to shop there - not necessarily the whole chain unless it comes from corporate, but at least there. I don't agree with surveilling the employees, usually for the acts of one jerk, and targeting them for tickets. When they need police services, give it to them promptly and professionally. That's the professional thing to do and what we're paid to do. We don't have to like them or their business but we do have to serve them even when they don't serve us. Turn the other cheek folks. Don't stoop to their level. Above all, be safe.

Chuck @ 10/12/2015 4:59 AM

Let's get a list of these places so we can boycott them !!

Chris @ 10/13/2015 2:03 PM

Arby, you are on the right track. My experience has been the opposite in my community. I constantly turn down offers for free food and drink. It's our policy not to accept that, and probably a good one. He helps us stay fair and impartial. I don't agree with targeting business employees because of the action of one employee or even their management. It lowers us to their level and we are better than that. Let's take the high road ladies and gentlemen. I don't suggest we patronize a business where we aren't wanted. That would at best be silly and at worst could put us at risk of having our food or drink adulterated. I'm lucky to work in the community I do where for the most part, citizens still consider us the good guys.

Robert @ 10/20/2015 9:42 AM

So, this is an interesting thread. First, the law....I would doubt that Police are a "protected class", so their is no federal law. Some states, may have more protections...but I doubt any state has a specific LEO standard for business owners (perhaps an official uniform standard geared towards the military might be on the books)...so bottom line, it is stupid and childish...but legal.
Just as you can place a sign that says "no blonde haired people allowed"...you can post a sign that says "no police".

What I find interesting is basically 50% of this board would then recommend breaking department rules and / or state/federal law...by specifically "targeting" a group of people for enforcement
I commend the 50% of the board who chose to rise above the petty behavior of a few.
Now my bigger concern...if 50% of LE willing to break laws or at least department policy over a cup of coffee? If so, what percent would be willing to break the law for $100 or to get even with an ex-wife??

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