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Uniformed cop asked to leave eatery over service weapon

Outback Steakhouse has since apologized for the incident


By PoliceOne Staff

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — A uniformed Tennessee officer was asked to leave an Outback Steakhouse because he had a service weapon on him.

WRCB-TV reports that Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Officer Andrew Ward was asked by the restaurant's manager to remove and put his weapon in his vehicle on Friday. The officer explained he had to have it because he was in uniform.

The manager subsequently asked Ward to leave, citing an Outback policy that made the restaurant a gun free zone. Ward posted his experience on his Facebook page, which has since been shared more than 150,000 times.

The officer said that the manager confronted him because a customer stated she was “scared for her life” when she saw his weapon.

"(The customer) said police are shooting people, and she could have gotten shot in the parking lot, and the manager had to walked her and her husband to their vehicle," Ward said. "We were told it was a policy they don't allow guns - if we would have known there was a complaint we would not have went anywhere! Seriously, she was scared for her life? We were joking and laughing with our server as we ordered, then prayed. What was scary about that?"

Ward said Outback later contacted him to apologize and offered him a $100 gift card. Ward accepted the apology and said he’s thankful for the community’s support, according to WDEF.

In a statement, Outback said the manager of the restaurant “made a mistake” and that the company has “always allowed uniformed law enforcement officers to carry their sidearms inside our restaurants.”

Sheriff Eric Watson said in a statement that he was “saddened” when he learned about the incident.

“While I truly respect the restaurant for reaching out to the officer, our community must also show support to the men and women who place the badge on their chests every single day in order to protect the establishment in which the officer was asked to leave,” Watson said.

 

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