TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Starbucks is apologizing after an employee reportedly asked six police officers to leave or change their location in one of the company's shops in a Phoenix suburb because another customer reported feeling unsafe.
Starbucks said it has "deep respect for the Tempe Police Department" and was apologizing "for any misunderstanding or inappropriate behavior that may have taken place" during the July 4 encounter.
The Tempe Officers Association said the officers had just bought their drinks and were standing together before their shift started when a barista made the request for a customer. The association called the request offensive and disheartening.
Association President Rob Ferraro called it perplexing that someone would feel unsafe when officers are around.
The Police Department said it hoped the incident was an isolated incident.
Rossann Williams, executive vice president and president of U.S. Retail of Starbucks, issued the following statement:
"Dear Chief Moir and the entire Tempe Police Department,
Thank you, Chief Moir, for the conversation today. On behalf of Starbucks, I want to sincerely apologize to you all for the experience that six of your officers had in our store on July 4.
When those officers entered the store and a customer raised a concern over their presence, they should have been welcomed and treated with dignity and the utmost respect by our partners (employees). Instead, they were made to feel unwelcome and disrespected, which is completely unacceptable.
At Starbucks, we have deep appreciation for your department and the officers who serve the Tempe community. Our partners rely on your service and welcome your presence, which keeps our stores and the community a safe and welcoming place.
Our strong relationship with the Tempe Police Department has provided us the opportunity to host several "Coffee with a Cop" events in area stores, which bring residents and police together to discuss relevant issues and find common ground. We look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationship with you, and we agree that the experience of your officers requires an important dialogue - one that we are committed to being part of.
What occurred in our store on July 4 is never the experience your officers or any customer should have, and at Starbucks, we are already taking the necessary steps to ensure this doesn't happen again in the future.
I will be in Tempe this evening and welcome the opportunity to meet with any of you in person to address concerns or questions.
executive vice president, president U.S. Retail
Starbucks Coffee Company"
The Tempe Officers Association responded with their own statement from President Sergeant Rob Ferraro:
"We would like to thank the public for the overwhelming support shown to our officers in the aftermath of this unfortunate incident. We are encouraged that Starbucks has reached out to our organization and to the Tempe Police Department to apologize and to further express their support of law enforcement.
We hope that out of this unfortunate incident there comes a welcome dialogue, one that more closely unites the men and women on the front lines of police work with the communities we serve and protect."