Starbucks fired a barista for writing "pig" on a cup meant for police officers in Kiefer, Oklahoma on Thanksgiving Day. Police Chief Johnny O'Mara demanded an apology, but later went on Fox News, asking Starbucks not to fire the employee. There was some speculation that the officer who ordered might have been behind it, but the officer has denied that.
On Thursday, a Kiefer police officer dropped by the Starbucks in nearby Glenpool to pick up a coffee for himself and four other emergency dispatchers working on the holiday. When he picked up the cups, they all read "pig" on the label where the customer's name should be.
The officer delivered the coffee to his colleagues, then called O'Mara, who was on vacation at the time, Starbucks spokesman Jory Mendes told the New York Times.
Kiefer Police Chief Johnny O’Mara says one of his officers picked up five cups of coffee today at the Glenpool @Starbucks for his dispatchers, as a thank you for working on Thanksgiving.November 28, 2019
O'Mara then called the Starbucks himself, and the manager said they would reprint the labels, reports KTUL. O'Mara said that was not enough, so the barista contacted the officer and told him it was a joke.
O'Mara posted a photo of the cups on Facebook. Although the original post has since been taken down, the image has been circulated on Facebook and Twitter.
"What irks me is the absolute and total disrespect for a police officer who, instead of being home with his family and enjoying a meal and a football game, is patrolling his little town," O'Mara wrote in the original post.
On Friday, Starbucks issued a statement, confirming the barista was behind the "pig" label and that the employee has since been fired.
"This is absolutely unacceptable, and we are deeply sorry to the law enforcement officer who experienced this. We have also apologized directly to him and connected with the Chief of the Kiefer Police Department as well to express our remorse," the company said. "The Starbucks partner who wrote this offensive word on a cup used poor judgment and is no longer a partner after this violation of company policy."
The statement concluded, "This language is offensive to all law enforcement and is not representative of the deep appreciation we have for police officers who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe."
O'Mara later went on Fox News Friday, where he said Starbucks should not have fired the employee.
"I'm asking for civility here," the police chief said. "Starbucks is working very well with me and my department, and we're hoping we can take this moment, where a mistake was made, and turn it into something that highlights the ability to be civil to one another."
There was speculation online that the officer who ordered the coffee may have used the name "pig" when ordering. However, the officer denied this, insisting he did not use a Starbucks app to pay.
I just got off the phone with the officer, who does not want his name to be made public. He said he has never had a Starbucks account in his life, and paid for the drinks with his debit card.— Amy Slanchik (@amyslanchik) December 1, 2019
On Twitter, a woman claiming to be O'Mara's daughter was among the users who voiced support for Starbucks. "This is my father and i'd like to say that he is absolutely a pig and i'd like to thank the brave men and women from starbucks for their service," she wrote.
In its statement, Starbucks said it plans to host a Coffee with a Cop event at the Starbucks, where customers can meet Kiefer Police Department officers to discuss "the critical role dispatchers and police officers play in keeping our communities safe."
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