Coffee and police work go hand in hand but on this day at a “Coffee with a Cop” event at a Starbucks in Cathedral City, California Highway Patrol Lt. Daniel Hesser says it’s more about community and mutual understanding, “So that we can contact people in a non enforcement environment speak to them answer their questions so they see that we’re real people and hopefully when those situations do occur there’s a little bit more understanding on both sides.”
But after two Riverside County Sheriff’s Department deputies were denied service, according to Sheriff Chad Bianco and laughed at by employees at a Starbucks store in Riverside, many were left with a bitter taste.
“A pretty bad situation for Starbucks they’ve been getting some pretty bad publicity, especially lately especially with law enforcement,” says Julia Gilbert from Bermuda Dunes adding that law enforcement officers deserve our respect.
Sheriff Bianco said in a social media post, “The anti police culture repeatedly displayed by Starbucks employees must end.”
Bill Young, president of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Association, says all customers deserve respect, “Their employees shouldn’t discriminate against anyone, and they shouldn’t treat anyone different because of their profession. We won’t stand for this.”
And many who were outraged about the incident online vowed to boycott the coffee giant, or at least try.
“The mobile orders, they’re on every corner, the run throughs, I think people like the idea of boycotting it but for them to actually do it even myself I might say would be hard ’cause we need that coffee fix,” says Gilbert.
Starbucks has apologized for the incident. A Starbucks spokesperson sent us this statement:
“There is simply no excuse for how two Riverside deputies were ignored for nearly 5 minutes at our store on Thursday evening. We are deeply sorry and reached out to apologize directly to them. We take full responsibility for any intentional or unintentional disrespect shown to law enforcement on whom we depend every day to keep our stores and communities safe. No customer, in or out of uniform, should ever have that experience at a Starbucks. The partners (employees) who worked that evening will not be scheduled to work while we investigate and take the appropriate steps.”
Lt. Hesser says what happened was wrong but he and his officers have had good service there, “It’s always unfortunate when things like that happen, my personal experience I haven’t experienced anything negative going into a Starbucks in uniform and our officers in our office we haven’t experienced that.”
And says events like these can make a difference, “That’s one of the reasons we want to make sure we’re in places where it may sometimes not be ideal because that’s what our job is to do is be where the community is.”
Gilbert respects their decision to carry on with their event as planned, “It shows that they are above this and they can get passed it.”