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Arby's Employee Says Unfortunate Joke Not Denial Of Service To Officer

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PEMBROKE PINES (CBSMiami) – Is it an example of a diminished respect for police or a poor attempt at humor?

That's the question after a Pembroke Pines Police Officer alleged that an Arby's employee refused to serve her because she's a cop.

Kenny Davenport said he was working when Pembroke Pines Police Sergeant Jennifer Martin pulled up to the drive thru.

Davenport said that he couldn't serve Martin, but not because she's a police officer. He said it was because he was so busy with other customers that he had to ask his manager for help. Davenport said that's when his manager made the unfortunate joke to Martin about not being able to take her order.

"We don't hate cops," Davenport said. "We don't hate anybody. We're just trying to get people out of the drive thru."

According to a police report on the incident, the police officer was told by the manager, "(Davenport) doesn't want to serve you because you are a police officer."

After that, the officer said she wasn't certain she wanted to dine at the restaurant but the manager assured her everything was okay and handed the officer the food, according to the report.

The manager allegedly laughed about it and said the clerk was allowed to refuse to serve the officer.

That's when the officer said she was unsure about the condition of her food, decided not to eat there and asked for a refund, the report states.

A South Florida police union is calling for a national boycott of Arby's after police say an officer was denied service.

"I am offended and appalled that an individual within our community would treat a police officer in such a manner.  It is unacceptable," stated PPPD Chief Dan Giustino.

The incident prompted wives of officers to stage a protest at the restaurant.

"I wanna cry. My husband spent 25 years. My son is an officer," said protester Wendy Sorrell.

In reaction to the incident, the Dade County Police Benevolent Association is calling for the employees involved to be fired.

"It is beyond comprehension and deeply troubling that a business would deny service to a law enforcement officer just for being a law enforcement officer. In this case, after the clerk refused to serve the officer, the manager came up to the window laughing and said that the clerk had the right to refuse service to the officer. This is yet another example of the hostile treatment of our brave men and women simply because they wear a badge. It is unacceptable and warrants much more than an apology. We support our brothers and sisters who wear the badge in Broward County and across the United States. Until corrective action is taken and the employees involved in this incident are terminated, we are calling for a national boycott of Arby's," said Florida and Dade County PBA president John Rivera.

The incident is considered to be isolated.

"We are very proud of the partnerships we have built within our city, and for an incident like this to have happened is very disappointing for everyone," said Chief Giustino.

Police said Arby's responded to the incident after Chief Giustino contacted the corporation.

Arby's Chief Executive Officer Paul Brown and Senior Vice President of Operations Scott Boatwright contacted Chief Giustino to apologize on behalf of the organization. Both men assured the chief, "the employee's behavior was unacceptable and not representative of the company's values," according to police.

The company issued a statement on the matter saying, "We take this isolated matter very seriously as we respect and support police officers in our local communities. As soon as the issue was brought to our attention, our CEO spoke with the Police Chief who expressed his gratitude for our quick action and indicates the case is closed.  We will be following up with our team members to be sure that our policy of inclusion is understood and adhered to."

However, Davenport's grandfather believes the episode is being blown out of proportion. He said that he and his grandson, whom he raised, have respect for the police. He believes the whole thing is centered on a dumb joke gone awry.

"Officers lives matter," he said. "Everybody's life matters. Somebody made a joke and she just didn't take it the right way. She didn't think they were joking. She thought it was a serious matter. Now their job as an officer is very serious and I appreciate all that they do."

Kenny Davenport maintains that neither he nor anyone else disrespected Sergeant Martin but he sees little use in explaining himself.

"There's no point in talking," he said. "I'm 19. She's an officer and I'm colored."

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