WACO, Texas (KWTX) Local firefighters are responding to a controversy brewing nationwide.
(Photo by Rissa Shaw)
As a sign of solidarity, The Waco Professional Firefighters Association is offering police an alternative to Starbucks after a group of officers was asked to leave a store in Arizona last week.
"To kind of remind that they 'hey, no matter where you go and how many people you run into that don't support you, you're always welcome in the firehouse,'" said Matt Sterling, Vice President of the Waco Professional Firefighters Association.
On July 4, a group of police officers was asked to leave a Starbucks in Tempe because a customer felt "uncomfortable."
In response, over the weekend, the WPFA posted on Facebook that Waco firehouses are available to officers wanting to get their coffee elsewhere.
"To my police officer brothers and sisters that are skipping Starbucks: The firehouse always has fresh coffee. If we do not, we will make it. Just stop on it," the post read.
Sterling said coffee is a firehouse staple.
"Sometimes it's what we live off of, unfortunately," said Sterling "A cup of coffee means a lot more than 'a cup of coffee.'"
He said, despite the fire-police rivalry, first-responders are family.
"As much as we rib each other, we love working with each other," said Sterling. "(We hope this) Reminds them we are family, we're here for you, they're always welcome where we are."
The offer wasn't a statement against the coffee giant, Sterling said.
"It has nothing to do with Starbucks, it doesn't matter where the incident happened at, it's not a statement against Starbucks or any other company or any person for that matter," said Sterling. "It's just a reminder to them, to our brothers and sisters of the thin blue line, that the thin red line has their back."
The President of the Sheriff's Law Enforcement Association of McLennan County, Sgt. Brad Bond, said he was appreciative of the gesture.
"That's one of the positive things that come out of this negative stuff is we get an outpouring of support from the public," said Bond.
Bond was disheartened to hear what happened to the officers in Arizona.
"Both parts of it, that they were asked to leave and that also somebody felt unsafe around them," said Bond.
A media spokesman for Starbucks referred KWTX to the apology the company made to Tempe PD following last week's incident in Arizona.
"What occurred in our store on July 4 is never the experience your officers or any customer should have, and at Starbucks, we are already taking the necessary steps to ensure this doesn't happen again in the future," the statement from Rosann Williams, Executive VP, President of U.S. Retail, read in part.
He also mentioned past partnerships with Tempe PD--and others--for "Coffee with a Cop" programs.
The spokesman said the company was not going to comment specifically about the offer the Waco PFA was making to police.
"We generally have a pretty decent relationship with Starbucks around here," said Bond.
Bond hopes to return the favor to firefighters in Waco.
"We'll spread the word and hopefully we'll take 'em up on it," said Bond.
"I would just like to tell them 'thank you' and we also have about five coffee pots around here everyday, so anytime they want to come by they're welcome to have coffee with us here, too."