Would you feel safe or threatened in the presence of police inside a Starbucks location?
That is the debate firing up on social media after a customer's concern led to six Tempe, Arizona, police officers were asked to leave or move from the line of sight of unsettled patrons.
The barista made the call on July 4 after the officers had already paid for their drinks. They approached them because a patron expressed they didn't feel safe with the presence of the officers nearby sipping their cup of joe.
The Tempe Officers Association tweeted:
"This treatment of public safety workers could not be more disheartening. While the barista was polite, making such a request at all was offensive."
Soon, the #boycottstarbucks hashtag began trending on Twitter.
The debate in regards to their treatment got heated, with many believing the incident was ridiculous for various reasons.
On July 7, Starbucks executive vice president Rosann Williams wrote a statement apologizing to Chief Moir and the entire Tempe Police Department.
"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."
Williams expressed regret over the manner in which the officers were asked to leave.
"When those officers entered the store and a customer raised 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."
She continued to maintain the strong relationship the company has with the community.
"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."
The executive vice president concluded the letter announcing she will travel to Tempe that evening to discuss and address concerns.
However, some felt the customer's request was justified.
And others felt the letter of apology was a bit lacking.
Last year, Starbucks closed 8,000 of its stores for anti-bias training after a racial-profiling incident at a store in Philadelphia.
The book Changing Our Thought Process:: The Road to Meaningful Police Community Trust Building, available here, addresses the strained relationships some communities and police organization's have.
"...written to address the systemic trust issues between the police and some of the communities that they serve. As a result of the reoccurring episodes or patterns of behaviors, there appears to be little evidence that existing programs, strategies, or policies are working effectively."