How safe do you feel around law officers?

Published 5:51 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2019

I certainly hope you did enjoy some leisurely time off to celebrate July 4th.

Perhaps you attended a festive event, one that included lighting up the night sky with colorful pyrotechnics. Or maybe you attended a family gathering, complete with lots of good food. Or maybe you were like me and sat at home, fired up the grill, popped open a can (or two, or three) of a cold adult beverage, and then, with a stuffed belly, it was off to bed.

While the majority of Americans were celebrating our nation’s birthday, others had to work, to include our brave law enforcement officers. For at least two departments I read about, their Independence Day wasn’t so festive.

The Arizona Republic published a story regarding a half-dozen Tempe Police officers, who after ordering their coffee, being asked to leave a Starbucks Café on July 4. And why you might ask….because a customer there told one of the café’s employees that they felt “uncomfortable” due to the presence of the officers.

Uncomfortable? Perhaps the individual making that statement has experienced some unfortunate confrontation or situation with a police officer (or officers) in the past. But, speaking for myself, I feel safe when in the presence of law enforcement officers, especially if I’m in a public setting….where the opportunity for something bad to happen can indeed happen. They have guns, I do not.

This particular incident did not go unnoticed by the Tempe Officers Association. That organization took to Twitter, saying, “This treatment of public safety workers could not be more disheartening. While the barista was polite, making such a request at all was offensive. Unfortunately, such treatment has become all too common in 2019. We know this is not a national policy at Starbucks Corporate and we look forward to working collaboratively with them on this important dialogue.”

Starbucks issued a quick apology, which came from Rossann Williams, executive vice president/president of retail for Starbucks in the United States, to Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir.

“On behalf of Starbucks, I want to sincerely apologize to you all for the experience that six of your officers had in our store on July 4,” stated Williams. “When those officers entered the store and a customer raised a concern over their presence, they should have been welcomed and treated with dignity and the utmost respect by our partners (employees). Instead, they were made to feel unwelcome and disrespected, which is completely unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of miles to the east near Little Rock, Arkansas, a dozen individuals were arrested in Pulaski County on July 4 for engaging in what was described as a “fireworks war.”

According to NBC affiliate KARK, witnesses said people were shooting fireworks at each other in the street. The victims included two deputy sheriffs who responded to the scene.

“People were coming up to us with missing fingers and hands blown off,” said a spokesperson from the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office. “When we were trying to put tourniquets on someone that had missing fingers, they were throwing fireworks.”

Fireworks were also shot in the direction of EMS crews as they arrived on the scene.

The fireworks were described as “commercial grade.”

Those arrested were teens. They were charged with fleeing arrest, aggravated assault, drug possession, and assault on a police officer.

And then, two days after the calm in Tempe and Pulaski County, our own Roanoke-Chowan area lawmen were called out on a manhunt after a man driving a stolen pick-up truck out of Martin County attempted to run over a Windsor Police officer.

As of this writing on Sunday afternoon (July 7), the suspect, Jeffery Ray Harrison, remains at large. He fled on foot in the Buzzards Cross area of Bertie County after wrecking the stolen truck.

It’s definitely a crazy world out there, even for those who risk their lives each and every day to protect ours.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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