An Oklahoma police officer working on Thanksgiving made a Starbucks run for emergency dispatchers to thank them for working during the holiday. When he got his order, he said, he saw the word “PIG” printed on a cup’s label.
The officer, a member of the Kiefer, Oklahoma, police department, took the order to the dispatchers and contacted the police chief, Johnny O’Mara, who was on vacation at the time, according to Jory Mendes, a Starbucks spokesman.
The word “PIG” was printed on all five cups, KTUL-TV reported. When O’Mara called the Starbucks, in Glenpool, Oklahoma, the manager offered to reprint the cups, which the chief said was an insufficient apology, the station reported.
The officer told the station that the barista contacted him, apologized and said it was meant as a joke.
O’Mara posted about the episode on Facebook, including an image of one of the cups, prompting Starbucks to investigate. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday.
“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,” he said in the post, which was widely circulated and has since been taken down.
Kiefer, which is about 20 miles south of Tulsa, has a population of fewer than 2,000 people.
Despite speculation on social media that the officer was responsible for the word on the label, a Starbucks statement expressly said that the barista “wrote this offensive word,” used “poor judgment” and was ultimately fired for violating company policy.
“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,” Mendes said.
After hearing about the barista’s firing, O’Mara, in an interview on Friday on Fox News, called for Starbucks to reconsider.
“I’m asking for civility here,” he 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.”
Starbucks and the Kiefer Police Department plan to host a “Coffee With a Cop” event, in which local law enforcement can meet with baristas to discuss the role that dispatchers and officers play in keeping communities safe, according to a joint statement issued on Friday.
Starbucks also said it would work with law enforcement agencies to educate its employees nationwide and promote understanding and respect.
This is not the first time Starbucks has apologized on behalf of its baristas.
In July, a Starbucks barista in Arizona asked six police officers to move out of an anxious customer’s line of sight or to leave. The officers left the coffeehouse, and Starbucks later apologized for making the officers feel “unwelcome and disrespected.”
In May 2018, Starbucks closed more than 8,000 stores in the United States for one day to conduct anti-bias training after two black men were arrested after asking to use the restroom without buying anything at one of its Philadelphia stores. The company later apologized to the two men.