Coming off a call, elevated heart rate, head spinning and looking for a bite to eat a young officer steps into a local mega chain eatery looking for a bite to eat and a bit of normalcy. On the approach to the counter some 20 something kid with a battle beard earned in hours of Modern Warfare raises his hands and says “ Don’t shoot me”. It’s a situation playing out all over the country to various extents. In the last 12 months there have been 34 denials of service at eateries, 15 receiving considerable public attention but all involving corporate mega chains. A trend that seems to be picking up steam and seems to get its start with the birth of the $15.00 an hour “living wage” movement.
Nine times out of ten, the officer stops, turns and walks without so much as a word being exchanged. Usually when these incidents flare up it’s due to a civilian patron witnessing it or hearing about it and becoming enraged. Do Corporations have a responsibility to take steps to prevent such incidents? Do they gamble on paying for an ounce of protection to get a pound of cure if something takes place? Is the threat of slipping profits for 1 or 2 quarters enough to show them the light?
Imagine Johnny, a newly appointed prep cook at a popular burger joint. He, at 24, has little experience outside academia and is easily swayed by his lack of positive interaction with law enforcement and constant pounding of the drums from the anti-cop movement. Halfway through his shift he sees a patrol car pull up and an officer exits the vehicle. He watches as the officer approaches and states “we don’t serve you guys here”. The manager pretends to not hear it as its not worth the headache especially since the officer is leaving and the kid started laughing. Does that make this okay? Does laughing somehow negate the insult?
For some time incidents like this had been brushed off by the corporate office who rarely if ever would subjugate the franchisee to address with a coupon. Social Media and the birth of a first responder support and advocacy group has started to change that. Had the above scenario taken place but the receiver was Black, Asian, LGBT or Special needs, the corporation would rise up and run to make things right. Damage control plans would be enacted and the media coverage and boycotts would be heavy. Why is it that in our society we are afraid to harm anyone except those that we call when someone offends us.
Corporations wield more power than anyone in turning the tide in this never ending and steadily increasing war on cops. By establishing corporate policy that politicians won’t dare and make the discrimination of first responders, or any individual because of their occupation, no different than doing so for race, religion or sexual preference. Establishing connections with first responder support organizations such as LESMA and creating a “Liaison program” such as that being developed currently with two corporations due to roll out soon. Creating an environment that is safe and stress free for the officers and first responders and makes them feel at home. While the first responder demographic as a whole is not the largest, it is extremely loyal and frequent visitors of restaurants and fast food establishments. A sound investment that would clearly generate a hefty return to corporate America for its time, dedication and support that would easily offset the costs. As we venture into this new field and territory hand in hand with the first two of hopefully many corporations we want to let those we stand forI know that change is coming. This ship didn’t get off course in an instant and it’s going to take a bit to right.