Police Are Being Advised Not to Take Lunch Breaks at Restaurants Because it Makes Them ‘Public Targets’

The Lucky Teriyaki restaurant was flooded with phone calls and messages after an employee apparently told sheriff’s deputies they wouldn’t serve officers. (Skagit County Sheriff’s Office)
The Lucky Teriyaki restaurant was flooded with phone calls and messages after an employee apparently told sheriff’s deputies they wouldn’t serve officers. (Skagit County Sheriff’s Office)

When the officer bit into his sandwich during his lunch break Monday, he heard a crunching noise. A few moments later, blood was dripping from his mouth.

Investigators with the Columbus, Ohio, police department are trying to determine whether the shards of glass in the officer’s sandwich got there accidentally or were placed intentionally by an employee at the Lincoln Cafe on East Long Street. Neither the officer nor a worker who was questioned in the incident have been identified, and no one has been charged, but police want to know whether there was malicious intent, and whether it was motivated by the officer’s badge.

Leon Lewis, manager at the Lincoln Cafe, told the NBC affiliate that the restaurant is investigating the incident. He told the news station that police officers regularly patronize his business and they’ve never had any incidents before.

So far, police told the NBC affiliate, there isn’t a reason to suspect this act was carried out to harm an officer.

But for police advocates, cases such as these raise other questions.

Fatal shootings of civilians by officers, such as those in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights, Minn., and recent attacks on officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge are a stark reminder of the strained relationship between police departments and the communities they serve. But those tensions are playing out in smaller ways and smaller arenas across the country — including at the nation’s lunch tables.

“I saw a bulletin that came out yesterday … encouraging officers not to eat in restaurants because it makes you a public target,” said Terry Cunningham, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, who told The Washington Post he doesn’t tell people he’s a police officer when he orders takeout. “You can’t operate under that condition all the time, especially in the half an hour that [police] go to get a sandwich or a cup of coffee. This just adds to that cumulative stress that they’re under. It’s a sad, sad commentary.”

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SOURCE: Cleve R. Wootson Jr. 
The Washington Post