It’s a tale of two police departments on the 4th of July. On one coast, officers showed compassion for a hungry woman who was shoplifting, while on the other officers complained they were asked to leave a Starbucks because their uniforms were apparently bothering another customer.
In New York, three police officers were working on the Fourth of July when they decided to stop by a Manhattan Whole Foods supermarket.
Security guards told the cops a woman was shoplifting groceries — and officers are now getting massive praise for their generous response.
The cops — now identified as Lt. Louis Sojo and Officers Esnaidy Cuevas and Michael Rivera — were on the way to grab a snack and cold drink in the store when security guards told them a woman was stealing food.
The cops approached her to assess the situation.
“I asked her, ‘What’s going on?’ She told me she was hungry,” said Sojo.”So, I looked in her bag. I decided — we decided — to say ‘We’ll pay for her food.'”
Sojo said the security guard was shocked by the kind response, but brought the officers over to the cashier to pay for the woman’s food.
“At that moment, she was extremely emotional,” said Sojo. “She did thank us, but she was pretty much speechless at what happened.”
Film and TV director Paul Bozymowkski, who was in the store during the event, tweeted about the incident Thursday afternoon, “This woman was being held by security. She had food in her bag she didn’t pay for. When the NYPD showed up, they paid for her food.”
He also posted an image of the officers paying for the alleged shoplifter’s food, which appeared to show her getting emotional. The photo has over 2,000 likes and nearly 500 retweets at press time. Bozymowski told CBS News that “it was very moving to see such a genuine act of kindness.”
This woman was being held by security.
She had food in her bag she didn’t pay for.
When the NYPD showed up, they paid for her food.
— paul bozymowski (@pboz) July 4, 2019
Sojo said the officers did not expect the good deed to receive so much positive attention and that they were “extremely humbled” by the response.
He added that it isn’t uncommon for officers to pay for someone’s food.
“You know, I’ve been doing this for 22 years. This is not the first time I’ve paid for food. This is not the first time they’ve paid for someone’s food,” he said referring to the two other cops.”We don’t go out and do it all the time, but, you know, when you look at someone’s face and you notice that they need you, and they’re actually hungry. It’s pretty difficult as a human being to walk away from something like that. We weren’t raised like that. So, it’s the right thing to do.”
WATCH POLICE HELP OUT A WOMAN ON 4th OF JULY
The three officers have received well deserved recognition for their amazing act of kindness.
“We didn’t know this was going to get the attention it has gotten,” Sojo said. “When you look at someone’s face and you notice they’re actually hungry, it’s pretty difficult as a human being to walk away from something like that.”
“We just go out there and take it day by day,” Cuevas, 32, chimed in. “I’m pretty sure someone would have done the same for me.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Twitter has sprung #DumpStarbucks after an employee at a Tempe, Arizona store asked police officers to leave because a customer “did not feel safe” in their presence.
On Thursday, the Tempe Officers Association tweeted a “Dump Starbucks” logo with the message, “Don’t appreciate Starbucks asking our Tempe cops to leave your establishment on the 4th of July. Several of those cops are veterans who fought for this country!”
Don’t appreciate @Starbucks asking our #Tempe cops to leave your establishment on the #4thofjuly2019. Several of those cops are #veterans who fought for this country! #ZeroRespect pic.twitter.com/oGaDKhlYX3
— Tempe Officers Association (@ToaAz) July 5, 2019
The association shared that on the 4th of July, while six officers were standing around drinking coffee at a Starbucks store, an employee, who knew one as a regular, informed them that a customer “did not feel safe” with them inside the store.
“The barista asked the officers to move out of the customer’s line of sight or to leave. Disappointed, the officers did in fact leave. This treatment of public safety workers could not be more disheartening. While the barista was polite, making such a request.”
The officers left the store.
What has resulted is a firestorm in conservative media, driven largely by Fox News, accusing Starbucks of bias against police.
TOA president Rob Ferraro complained, “It’s become accepted to not trust or to see police and think that we’re not here to serve you, and again, it goes back to — we take great pride of the level of customer service we provide to citizens, and to be looked at as feeling unsafe when you have law enforcement around you is somewhat perplexing to me.”
A spokesperson from Starbucks said in a statement: “We have a deep respect for the Tempe Police and their service to the community. We’ve reached out to the Tempe Police Department and Tempe Officers Association to better understand what happened and apologize. We want everyone in our stores to feel welcomed and the incident described is not indicative of what we want any of our customers to feel in our stores.”
The offended officers have not been named, the employee has not been identified, nor the customer who allegedly made the request.
Starbucks can’t catch a break.
Back in April, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson apologized after two black men were arrested from a Philadelphia store for not ordering beverages while waiting for a third person in their party to arrive.
Video of the arrest caused accusations that the men were racially profiled.