Dan Gilmore / September 4, 2015

Arby’s and the Police Relationship With the Public

It’s tough to be a cop and eat on the beat.

We really don’t know what happened between workers at an Arby’s in Pembroke Pines, Florida, and a police officer who was ordering a meal. Earlier this week, Police Sgt. Jennifer Martin drove her police cruiser through the Arby’s drive through and ordered, in the words of Jon Stewart, a meal of “sliced something.” The 19-year-old working the cash register took Martin’s credit card, but then called over his manager to complete the order. Perhaps the cashier was overwhelmed with orders coming in, as he later claimed. What happened next is up for interpretation, as its meaning rests completely in the nonverbal communication now lost. “He doesn’t want to serve you because you are a police officer,” the manager told the officer. Was it a joke? Or was it an attempt to disrespect the officer? After receiving her food, Martin then returned, asked for a refund and wrote up an incident report. After police called on a national boycott of Arby’s for the treatment, the national brand swooped in. The two employees were fired and the brand offered free meals to any officer that showed up at a few Florida locations in uniform Friday. The reality is it’s tough to be a cop and eat on the beat. You have to make sure you don’t eat food prepared by an employ you’ve arrested. Maybe Martin came from a difficult call. Perhaps she was on edge and took the joke the wrong way. Whatever the case may be, the situation in an Arby’s drive through illustrates just how tense is the relationship between police and the people they’ve sworn to protect.

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