On Oct. 13, a group of Tennessee parole officers were reportedly asked to leave a T.G.I. Friday's Restaurant because they were carrying their firearms.
The Tennessee Department of Corrections confirmed that the three officers were in uniform and were carrying state-issued law enforcement identification when they were told by the manager that they were “not allowed to have guns in the restaurant,” WSMV reported.
One of the officers who was having lunch in the restaurant took to Facebook to share his account of the story, according to Brentwood Home Page. He wrote that he and his colleagues were “thrown out... because law enforcement is not welcome,” adding that "it's so nice to be treated like crap when (I am) just trying to take my lunch hour."
Several social media users then gave the restaurant chain’s Facebook page several negative one-star reviews, calling for a boycott and the firing of the manger. The manager responded to angry messages on Facebook and apologized, and that post has since been deleted, Eater reports.
“The officers are out there to protect the public,” Johnny Crumby, president of the Tennessee Fraternal Order of Police, said, according to WSMV.
“If somebody comes in while someone is on their lunch break, they are not off-duty," he added. "They are still an officer. They will respond to whatever occurs there.”
The restaurant does ban customers from carrying guns, but law enforcement officers are allowed to dine in the restaurant while armed. Friday’s corporate office said they interviewed the manager who asked the officers to leave.
Friday’s released the following statement regarding the incident:
“The incident at our Franklin, Tennessee restaurant was caused by a manager’s misunderstanding of our company gun policy, and that manager has since been coached on the policy and now knows that police officers are always allowed to carry guns in our restaurants, whether they are in uniform or not. We have reached out to the officers to personally apologize for the unfortunate misunderstanding, and we’ve invited them back in to join us for a free lunch.”
The Tennessee Department of Corrections pointed out that the officers involved all left quietly and respectfully when the manager asked them to leave.