Starbucks barista asks six police officers to leave as their presence was making a customer 'feel uncomfortable'
A Starbucks spokesperson said they were in touch with the Tempe police department to "apologize for any misunderstandings or inappropriate behavior that may have taken place"
Six police officers in Tempe, Arizona were reportedly asked to leave by a Starbucks barista following a complaint from a customer who didn't "feel comfortable" with the group being in the outlet. The incident is believed to have occurred on July 4 at an outlet on Scottsdale and McKellips roads.
KNXV reports that a statement from the Tempe Officers Association said the officers had already paid for their drinks and were standing together inside the coffee shop. The group was then approached by a barista who said that their presence was making a customer “feel uncomfortable.”
Reportedly, the officers were politely asked to either move out of the customer’s sight or exit the establishment, following which the officers chose to leave.
The Tempe Officers Association has acknowledged that they are aware 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,” the association said. “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 Tempe Police Department has also responded saying that they had been in touch with Starbucks' corporate office about the unfortunate incident.
"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.
Reggie Borges, a spokesman with Starbucks, reportedly spoke to KTVK saying that customers visiting the coffee shop should "feel welcomed and embraced."
"We have reached out to the Tempe police department to try to better understand what took place and apologize for any misunderstandings or inappropriate behavior that may have taken place," Borges said.
"It is too early to say what type of ramifications employees will face, if any. But we want it to be known that everyone who walks into our store should feel welcomed and embraced and to have the best Starbucks experience," Borges told KTVK. "When that doesn’t happen, that is not indicative of the kind of welcoming environment that we want to provide."