In my last post, I argued that it didn’t “seem right” that a police officer would make up an “offense report” because she was refused service at a fast food place. I was also uncomfortable with the fact that she seems to have somehow gotten personal information from someone who was disinclined to provide it. I finally suggested that businesses should have the legal right to refuse business to police officers just because they’re police officers and still expect the same level of protection that any business or person ought to expect from the police.

I guess a fair question to ask of my OP is, what would have been a right way for this all to have turned out? That question can be broken into two others.

  1. What is the most the officer could have done to pursue her complaint and yet meet my standards for appropriate conduct?
  2. What would have to be true of our legal system for me to be okay with what the officer did do in this case, which was to write up an “offense report”

To answer the first question, my preference would be that the officer complain to the fast food company, using whatever avenues that already exist for a customer to issue a complaint in a related case. By “related case” I mean a case where a person is denied service for a reason not prohibited by law and where the proffered reason appears to be the real reason. In other words, I’d say it’s a different matter altogether if, say, the police officer is black and the employee says they don’t like to serve police officers but the real reason the employee is saying that is arguably that the officer is black.

My answer to the second question depends on what access any private citizen would have in a similar case. Let’s say someone refuses business to me because I am a public employee, and let’s say I have my name tag/badge that shows who I work for. Let’s also say it’s obvious from the situation that they’re not discriminating against me because of my gender, race, ethnicity, or religion. If I can call the police and the police can write up an “offense report,” then I concede that a police officer ought to be able to do the same if it happens to her/him.

I still don’t concede that I or the cop have any right to obtain contact information from an employee who declines to furnish it, especially because no crime or anything civilly actionable is being alleged. Is a crime, or at least an something civilly actionable, being alleged? Maybe. In the comments section of my last post, I referred approvingly to the idea of an “‘implied contract’ associated with being open for business” mentioned in this BHL post. Not being a lawyer, I wouldn’t know. But if it is something that I could allege and use to invoke the writing of an “offense report” and to obtain personal information from someone who doesn’t want to give it, then I suppose that an officer, as a citizen, ought to have the same prerogative.

That said, even if a cop then has the legal right to pursue the matter, I’m less certain as to whether he or she ought to pursue it. The privileges cops enjoy come with the responsibility to be judicious, and that sometimes means taking certain slights in stride. But that’s a different issue.

Now is probably the time to say that I do think it’s wrong to refuse service to someone without a “good” reason. What counts as “good” is probably in the eye of the beholder, but unless the cop in this case is leaving something out of her account, I don’t see a “good” reason to refuse her service.

Category: Courthouse, Market

About the Author

One Response to What would seem right?

  1. Dr X says:

    I agree with all of this. A police officer should have exactly the same rights and options as any other member of the public. Furthermore, an incident like this shouldn’t affect the officer’s future dealings with the individual or the company when the officer is carrying out professional duties.

    I don’t have much confidence that this is how it would work out in many cases, but that’s how it should be handled in an ideal world with police officers who are impeccably ethical.

    Of course, treating a police officer or anyone else so poorly is a shitty thing thing to do, except perhaps if the particular police officer previously did something ethically wrong and shitty to the employee. Then I’d leave room to deny service to that police officer since we’ve changed the officer’s moral standing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If you are interested in subscribing to new post notifications,
please enter your email address on this page.