AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File
Starbucks costs way too much for coffee, in my opinion, but some people seem to like it. Apparently, a couple of police officers in Tempe, Arizona were among that crowd. They stopped at a local Starbucks to get some coffee.
They were asked to leave.
By now, I’m quite sure you’ve seen the public relations mess that created. Starbucks angered a whole lot of people with the move, though it was just one store. The corporate offices could fix this easily enough if they handled it right. It seems they didn’t know how to do it.
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.
Now, this may look good. After all, it looks pretty heartfelt, right?
However, as RedState‘s Brandon Morse wrote:
Two things can be true at one time. I’m glad that Starbucks apologized for the behavior of one of their employees toward a group of men who wake up every day, put on a badge and a gun and stand between us and societal chaos. An apology was desperately needed in this situation, and Starbucks did the smart thing by ignoring the SJWs who celebrated the kicking out of the officers and making it clear that they understand they goofed.
It can also be true that the response seems light compared to apologies they made in the past. It was just last year that two black men were kicked out of a Starbucks for what was perceived as loitering. In response to the outrage, Starbucks said that they would close down their locations in order to train their employees on racial sensitivity and eliminate their “unconscious bias.” As I wrote last April, when this decision was made, “unconscious bias” usually implies that the person being accused of it is racist without his or her knowledge.
He’s not wrong.
Had the apology mirrored the apology from last year for an incident that was also out of line, at least to some degree, I wouldn’t care. After all, people make mistakes and I’m not ready to vilify an entire company over the actions of a single employee, especially a large one like Starbucks.
The company’s reaction, however, illustrates to me that it feels removing police officers with no cause at all is a much lesser offense than asking two perceived loiterers to leave. As Morse notes, the perception that race played a factor somehow made Starbucks trip over themselves to signal that it wasn’t any such thing, but anti-police bias doesn’t enjoy that degree of stigma.
For me, that’s a problem.
As such, I personally won’t be darkening the doorway of any Starbucks anytime soon. Not until it does more to try and show this kind of thing won’t happen again.