Kiefer Police Chief Johnny O'Mara called on Starbucks to "reconsider" the barista's firing

By Claudia Harmata
December 02, 2019 10:35 AM
John Milner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

Starbucks has fired the barista who wrote “Pig” on the cup labels of drinks ordered by Oklahoma police officers working on Thanksgiving.

On Thursday, an officer with the Kiefer Police Department purchased Starbucks drinks for a group of dispatchers working on the holiday. Upon receiving the drinks, he noticed that the word “Pig” was printed across the label where the customer’s name usually appears, according to ABC affiliate KTUL.

Kiefer Police Chief Johnny O’Mara was notified of the label and addressed the incident in a since-deleted post on Facebook after contacting the Starbucks location for an apology.

“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 reportedly wrote in the post prior to taking it down, according to the New York Times.

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The police officer who completed the run told KTUL that the employee reached out to him personally to apologize for the label, telling him that it was only meant as a joke.

Starbucks issued a statement on Thursday confirming that the employee had been terminated for the “unacceptable” behavior.

“This is absolutely unacceptable, and we are deeply sorry to the law enforcement officer who experienced this,” the statement read. “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 added: “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. 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.”

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Chief O’Mara then called on Starbucks to “reconsider” the barista’s firing, in an interview with Fox News on Friday, saying the employee’s action was a “mistake.”

“I’m asking for civility here,” O’Mara 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.”

A spokesperson for Starbucks told PEOPLE they were unable to comment on O’Mara’s remarks.

Starbucks and the Kiefer Police Department issued a joint statement on Friday outlining a new initiative aimed at fostering positive relationships between local police officers and members of their community.

“In the coming days, Starbucks will be meeting with the Kiefer Police Department to begin discussing ways to work together, including a jointly hosted Coffee with a Cop event at Starbucks where local law enforcement can meet with baristas and members of the community to discuss the critical role dispatchers and police offers play in keeping our communities safe,” the statement read. “Together with law enforcement agencies, Starbucks will jointly look for educational opportunities for our partners across the United States to promote better understanding and respect.”

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