I’m going through my LinkedIn feed the other day and see a post from a major police publication. Like anyone else, I stopped to scan it and halfway through, I nearly tossed my coffee mug at the wall.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I love my coffee and so they know it’s for that reason that I refrained. That same love of coffee is what also brought this article to my attention and brings me to my tablet for this article.

The article on the Starbucks scenario. (Screenshot – LinkedIn)

 

The officer who authored the article has a self-reported two decades in law enforcement. Now, I certainly don’t discount the officer’s time, dedication, or integrity, but his view of the situation is certainly not in line with mine, as I will detail below.

Again, let me state that I have tremendous respect for this individual as a writer and officer.

We both agree that it is disheartening and somewhat devastating that a civilian would feel so threatened that they would approach a member of the Starbucks staff and ask that the officers (who were just drinking coffee) be removed from the building.
 
Cops: We were kicked out of Starbucks because a customer “didn’t feel safe” around us

Officers were recently kicked out of Starbucks because their presence made a customer feel threatened. (Adobe Stock/Flickr)

 

We both feel the initial anger at Starbucks for such an incident being handled the way it was, but as for what came next… that is where we part roads.

While this other author talks about how “there is a great teaching moment that is at risk of being squandered by law enforcement… Instead of dumping Starbucks, we should be highlighting our understanding that one moment by one employee doesn’t represent the whole, for who knows that better than us?” (Mannion, C.).

While I agree that one incident from one employee is hardly an attack, and that eight incidents from eight different Starbucks coffee shops don’t exactly equal a hill of beans… is something bigger being missed?

A quick Google search for denial of service complaints by cops shows over 40 incidents in less than four years. Now, I know that even that doesn’t sound too impressive, however, I stopped after 25 minutes and still had many pages left unread.

A quick Google search shows a long list of police officers being refused service. (Screenshot – Google)

 

In late 2015 I started hearing about the denial of service to officers… a department here and an agency there… but I was retired and removed from the situation. That came to a screeching hault in February of 2016 when a group of NYPD officer where cursed at and tossed out of a Smashburger on Long Island.

My agency and my neighborhood. This insanity that had felt so far removed on the other side of the Mississippi or below the Mason-Dixon line had slammed home in the shadows of Gotham. In my mind, you swung at the largest department in America and something was gonna happen. Through my organization, Law Enforcement and Supporters for Media Accountability (L.E.S.M.A.), I began to research possible causes as for these types of attacks as I had noticed such high numbers against law enforcement officials compared to any other job or category.

Results of my findings were shocking even though they were expected. The shock… mainly because I didn’t see it at first.

Wikipedia

Protests broke out over the minimum wage being insufficient to live on. (Wikipedia)

 

The $15.00 an hour movement was born in 2012 and gathered little traction until 2015 when the Democratic party began speaking and meeting with key players in the movement. Shortly after, it had become significantly more popular and was eventually added to the party’s platform in the 2016 election.

The connection seemed clear and plenty of the cases lined up with the timing. We had a political movement that became a new battlefront in the war on cops. Attacks on cops by members of Black Lives Matter and Antifa were increasing at the same rates as the refusal to serve officers.

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Federal law makes it clear that discrimination is discrimination, whether it be on the basis of sex, religion, gender or occupation. Corporate policies, which tend to be way more detailed than the federal mandate, often fail to mention “occupation” as a protected category.

While adding such a term to their policy might not offer much in the way of protection, it would allow for quick and harsh punishment (termination), sending a shot across the bow to discourage further incidents.

With this in mind, I approached Smashburger Corp. directly.

This was after arranging boycotts at two local franchises, including the one in question. Slowed sales, public outcry, and the looming threat of expanding boycotts brought them to the table. With this groundwork laid, my staff and I presented the board of Smashburger with a reasonable, cost effective, and mutually beneficial solution. Together, we crafted a new policy on discrimination together that simply just added “or occupation”, and a relationship was born.

 

To take these incidents as random one-offs is negligent. To not look outside the box and view a situation from all angles is sloppy. To not see it for what it is and call it anything less is disingenuous. 

While a single employee’s actions don’t define a corporation, they do represent the corporations core beliefs. If a corporation fails to, at the very minimum, offer a detailed policy that counters a current trend, they are equally culpable as the miscreants themselves.

As officers, how can we call out public officials from our country for failing to support first responders or for their failure to act with due diligence against dangerous and disrespectful trends, yet not hold a corporation, a mere entity, accountable for the same?

 

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