It all went down early in the morning on Saturday, October 14th in Denison, Texas near the Oklahoma border. As Denison Police Chief Jay Burch described to reporters from San Antonio Express-News, officers working the night shift were cursed at and refused service by a female employee at Whataburger. When they informed the store's manager what had transpired, he reportedly told them "I don't get into politics."
Following their discussion with the manager, the officers left the premise. In a post to the department's official Facebook page, Chief Burch addressed the incident.
Here's the full text of his Facebook post:
**MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF**
The Denison Police Department enjoys great support from most of our community and our businesses. I get it, especially with the anti-police rhetoric from the national media and police-hate groups we see in the country, that many people buy into that rhetoric and dislike police. Most of those that I have come across in my career that hate cops are very familiar with us because many have a lengthy history of arrests or have friends or family members with such a history. I get all this and we get used to it for the most part.
But when 2 of my officers were refused service by an employee of a local restaurant on October 14 just after midnight, then cursed by that employee and the on-duty manager's only response is, "I don't get into politics", that concerns me. If a business does not want police officers as customers, just let us know. There's no need to curse us and make a scene, just let us know you don't want us there and we'll go somewhere else.
Now going somewhere else in Denison in the middle of the night is not easy because our officers don't have many options. What really gets my goat with such an incident is that while most of us are sleeping - sleeping!, the officers are out there working hard to keep us safe and when trying to take a break to eat - they face this type of reception from an employee of a local business and management calls it "politics"? The employee also said she would continue to refuse to serve officers. Now we know and rest assured officers will no longer patronize this business. Many of the officers also fear food-tampering with an attitude like this from such an employee.
As we most always try to do when there is a conflict, a police supervisor went to the restaurant and asked to speak to the employee in an effort to understand why she felt the way she did toward police. The employee alleged "cops beat up my boyfriend and are racists". When questioned further, the employee said her boyfriend was "beat up" when arrested by DPD a few weeks ago. The police supervisor went to the station and found the documentation of the arrest, then reviewed the video or audio of the arrest from the arresting officer's dash cam. It was a "routine" arrest. There was no physical altercation and no one injured. So the employee was simply lying about her boyfriend getting "beat up" by police.
I've seen similar service refusal stories like this around the state and country but never thought we'd see it locally. Yet, while disappointing that this one business takes or supports such an anti-police stance, we relish in the fact the majority of the Denison businesses and citizens we serve greatly support us and what we do to try to keep our community safe.
Oh, one last thing......Even though this one business accepts employees that refuse to serve and then curse cops, I guarantee you when they call 9-1-1 and need us, we'll come running. That's what cops do.
Chief Jay Burch
Proud to serve at Denison PD
October 14, 2017
Responding later that day, Whataburger reported they were aware of the incident and were in the process of addressing it. An official press release issued just hours later stated that, following an internal investigation, they had fired the employee. "We took swift action and this person is no longer employed by us." Whataburger also noted mandatory retraining for other employees involved, including the manager.
Additionally, the burger chain said in a statement they were reaching out to the specific officers involved and the Denison Police Department to apologize. Police Chief Burch confirmed that executives from the company had personally met the officers involved.
He also reported that the President and CEO of Whataburger had personally reached out to him to apologize. Following Whataburger's outreach, Burch rejected any notion of a boycott or department-wide ban.