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Starbucks apologizes after Arizona police officers asked to leave due to customer complaint

NEW YORK - AUGUST 5: Beverage cups featuring the logo of Starbucks Coffee are seen in the new flagship store on 42nd Street August 5, 2003 in New York City. The Seattle-based coffee company has emerged as the largest food chain in the Manhattan borough of New York with 150 outlets. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Executive Vice President of Starbucks has issued an apology to the Tempe, Arizona police department after some of its officers were asked to leave a coffee shop on the 4th of July.

A barista allegedly told the group of six officers that they were making another costumer uncomfortable and needed to either move out of the customer’s sight or leave.  They chose to leave.

The officers had already paid for their drinks and were standing together inside the coffee shop when the barista approached them.

After the incident, the officers reached out to Starbucks’ corporate office.  A corporate level employee apologized for any “misunderstanding or inappropriate behavior that may have taken place” and said the company has “deep respect for the Tempe Police Department.”

However, on Saturday, Starbucks went further with Rossann Williams, executive vice president, president U.S. retail, writing a formal apology to the Tempe Police Department:

“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.

Sincerely,

Rossann Williams
executive vice president, president U.S. Retail
Starbucks Coffee Company”

It is not clear if the barista, who has not been identified, will face disciplinary action.

More on Starbucks, here.

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