Police officers do so much to protect society. They put their lives on the line every day to make sure our communities continue to be safe. Our officers are role models for kids everywhere, and that should never change.
However, not everyone feels police officers should be everywhere, including Outback Steakhouse and some of their guests.
Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency officer Andrew Ward was at his local Outback Steakhouse with his wife last week. He was still on duty, and therefore wearing his uniform and carrying his weapon.
Five minutes later, they were both asked to leave.
According to a Facebook post from Officer Ward, the manager of the restaurant approached him and his wife, asking that Ward put his weapon in his truck while he dined. Ward pointed out that since he was on duty, he couldn't remove his gun as it was part of his uniform.
The manager walked away, made a phone call, then returned and asked both Ward and his wife to leave. The manager said that Outback Steakhouses are "gun-free zones."
Ward was obviously stunned. He took to Facebook to share his experience.
"What is this country coming to?" he asked. "A uniformed Law Enforcement Officer who is sworn to protect and serve the public, is refused service because they have a firearm! I am disgusted and have no other words!!!"
Ward also made it clear that he did not blame the manager, as they were just following policy and doing their job. Ward also revealed that apparently a customer had complained about his gun, saying she was "scared for her life" because "police are shooting people." This customer then asked to be escorted to her car "out of fear of being shot."
After Ward's post went viral, the director of media and community relations for Outback’s parents company, Bloomin Brands, released a statement.
“We’ve always allowed uniformed law enforcement officers to carry their side arms inside our restaurants," the statement read. "A manager made a mistake and we have discussed this with her. We have contacted the guest personally and apologized."
Ward confirmed that the chain reached out to him.
“I have spoken with the manger involved, the regional manager and the Vice President of operations for Outback today," Ward told local news. "They have apologized profusely and I have accepted their apology and the issue in my opinion has been concluded.”
The post has been shared more than 217,000 times, and most people are in support of Ward.