Riverside Sheriffs’ Association: Starbucks employees’ discrimination against deputies leaves a bitter taste


Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco took a firm stance over the weekend by posting to Twitter about a local Starbucks and the baristas who ignored two Riverside deputies trying to place an order.

Following Sheriff Bianco’s tweet, the Riverside Sheriffs’ Association (RSA) began to receive a flurry of phone calls from other law enforcement associations, who want to put an end to the growing number of anti-police incidents happening at the Seattle-based coffee chain.

“In the last few days, a number of law enforcement associations have reached out to us and would like to come together to demand that Starbucks train their employees,” said Bill Young, President of the RSA. “They all agree that something needs to be done. Their employees shouldn’t discriminate against anyone and they shouldn’t treat anyone different because of their profession. We won’t stand for this.”

The incident, which occurred at a Starbucks in Riverside on Thursday, December 12, has been recognized by Starbucks corporate. Starbucks has issued an apology to the two deputies. But Sheriff Bianco, who made an appearance on ‘Fox and Friends’ over the weekend, explained that Starbucks seems to think this is a case of poor customer service but Bianco says this is part of an anti-police culture that continues to be seen at this particular coffee chain.

“The response they gave to the public was that they (the deputies) were just frustrated about the wait,” Sheriff Bianco said in the ‘Fox and Friends’ interview. “But there was no one in line. They stood there for quite some time and repeatedly asked if anyone was going to help them. One of the baristas kinda chuckled and said ‘maybe’ while the other employees laughed. It was uncomfortable for them and the rest of the patrons at the store who realized what was happening.” 

The Riverside incident is the third time this year that Starbucks has had to defend how its employees treat law enforcement. In July, six officers in Tempe, Arizona, said a barista asked them to move away from a customer who complained that their presence was making him nervous. Starbucks apologized to the officers.

In November, a police chief in Oklahoma complained after a Starbucks employee labeled cups for several officers with the word “PIG.” Starbucks again apologized and fired the employee.

“I don’t want to pick on Starbucks,” Bianco said on ‘Fox and Friends’. “But something is happening with them and no other outlets.”

On Saturday morning, the Riverside County Sheriffs’ Department made a coffee stop at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Lake Elsinore as they made their way to a Cops for Kids Charity Event.  Deputies posed with staff and shared photos on social media with the cutline:  On our way to volunteer at a Cops for Kids charity event we decided to stop for coffee #wearepeopletoo #plentyofchoices #Copsforkids #givingbacktothecommunity

“Rather than delay and ignore service, they should actually be thanking the deputies for their service,” said Michael Abel, retired Chief of Police and current Executive Director of the Riverside Sheriff’s Association.