A clerk at a West Richland convenience store reportedly refused to serve a police sergeant because he was in law enforcement.
West Richland Sgt. Duane Olsen was off-duty at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday when he stopped at the Circle K on West Van Giesen Street, said Capt. Ben Majetich.
The clerk recognized Olsen as a police officer and refused to sell to him. Majetich said another clerk then completed the transaction for Olsen.
“He was kind of taken aback,” Majetich said.
On Wednesday, Circle K officials apologized for “this unfortunate incident and the inappropriate actions taken by our employee.”
“All of (the company officials) ... have been extremely apologetic over the whole incident,” Majetich said. “From the onset, we do not believe this reflective on Circle K or any of its businesses.”
The woman had been arrested a few days earlier during a traffic stop for an outstanding misdemeanor warrant, Majetich said.
“This happened to be one employee, who, at the time, was very upset and emotional,” he said.
But Olsen’s wife was also upset and posted on Facebook: “You refuse to serve our men in blue and I’ll refuse to give you my business.”
The post was shared more than 1,200 times, with one commenter giving the phone number to an employee in Circle K’s corporate office.
Calls then began to flood into the West Richland Police Department, Majetich said.
“Since that time, it’s taken off, and it’s been all over,” he said.
Majetich said they would have preferred that Olsen tell a superior officer about the incident, who could then have dealt directly with Circle K managers.
“We’re not advocating anything,” he said. “Our intent was never to take this public.”
Dan Dobson, Circle K’s regional operations director, released a statement that said it “takes these types of incidents very seriously and we are currently investigating this matter and dealing with it in accordance with our company practices. We value our relationship with the West Richland Police Department and truly appreciate the fine work they do within our community.”
Circle K is doing its own investigation into the employee’s actions, but it is not a criminal matter, Majetich said.
“She may be placed on leave, but it’s their call,” he said.