Saturday, September 05, 2015

The Pembroke Pines Arby's incident...the rest of the story


The exact year is unknown, but in the late 60s or early 70s, two boys in their early teens crouched in some chest-high weeds of a vacant lot in remote northwest Dade County. 
The boys watched the road intently, waiting for a victim to appear. 
Then, as the sun dipped below the horizon, the teens saw a car slowly approaching...a green and white Dade County Public Safety Department police cruiser.

The boys crouched lower and readied the weapons in their hands: three or four large grade A eggs.

As the green and white slowed to a stop at the intersection, the boys jumped up and threw the eggs at the cruiser's windshield. Before the officers inside could react, the boys were sprinting down the road. The cops gave chase, pulled up beside them and ordered them to stop.

The boys lived just a few blocks away, so the cops did what cops did back then...they took the boys home and turned them over to their parents. Case closed.

But the story doesn't end there.

A dozen or more years later, one of the boys was two or three years into his first job. He was now a police officer at the Dade County Public Safety Department.

One day he learned that his request for transfer to a special squad of detectives had been approved.

On his first day in the new unit, he was introduced to the other members of the squad. As he scanned the faces of his squad-mates, his eyes widened. One of those in the unit was one of the officers who was riding in the police car he'd egged a lifetime ago.

The officer gave no indication he'd recognized his new squad-mate, so the young officer quickly moved on and busied himself learning the ropes.

But one day, the young officer was assigned to work a case with the same cop who had transported him home after he'd egged his car.

At some point, the young cop and the veteran left headquarters to interview the victim in a case. 
As they made their way through traffic the new partners made small talk. Then, as the car was at a stop light, the older detective looked over at his young partner and asked, "You thought I'd forgotten, didn't you? little shit!" And then he laughed and shook the young cop's hand.

The young cop moved on to other assignments in the police department, eventually becoming a police helicopter pilot. He retired from the department a few years ago after more than 35 years of service.

The helicopter pilot told me his story a few years ago when I ran into him while I was photographing an assignment at the Miami-Dade Police Department's aviation unit in Opa-Locka.

I remembered the details of his story earlier this week as two news stories involving cops showed up on my Facebook newsfeed.

The first was about a young man in Ohio who was pulled over by a police officer for the crime of "making direct eye contact" as the two drove past each other.

The other story was a little closer to home, but equally ridiculous.

Last Wednesday, while newspapers in Europe were printing horrific images of a child who drowned while trying to escape the war in Syria, South Florida TV stations were providing breathless, super-heated coverage of a non-story about a Pembroke police officer who was allegedly "refused service" at an Arby's in her city the previous evening.  

And before you could say the words "viral" and "retweet," the story was national news.

Here's what happened, according to the Sun-Sentinel:
Kenneth Davenport
[Two Arby's employees] were working at the restaurant, 11755 Pines Blvd., when Sgt. Jennifer Martin said she was told by [manager Angel] Mirabal that [employee Kenneth] Davenport refused to ring up her order after accepting her credit card.

“He doesn’t want to serve you because you are a police officer,” Martin quoted Mirabal as saying.

Davenport said the comment from Mirabal was an attempt at a joke that backfired.

After finding himself so busy with other customers than he could not complete Martin’s transaction, Davenport said he asked Mirabal for help. That’s when Mirabal made his remark, Davenport said.

One might argue that the behavior of Mirabal and Davenport was no different than that of the teen-age egg throwers: stupid and juvenile, but far from the crime of the century.

Sgt Jennifer Martin
Additionally, what no one is reporting is how this ridiculous incident became a "story" in the first place.

It's a story because a clueless cop with no sense of humor was convinced a silly joke uttered by a bored fast food worker was the latest salvo in the so-called "war on cops."

After Martin says she was "refused service" at the Arby's, she drove back to the station and spent the better part of an hour writing an incident report. 

It goes without saying that any other clear-thinking, rational adult probably would have parked their car, gone inside the store and asked for an explanation or an apology. But she's a cop, and cops write reports.

But wait, it gets more bizarre!

Later than evening South Florida TV stations started receiving anonymous emails from Pines cops alerting them to the incident.

Shortly after 9 a.m. the next morning, the Pembroke Pines PD tweeted out a press release on the incident.

"I am offended and appalled that an individual within our community would treat a police officer in such a manner. It is unacceptable, and I will be contacting the Arby's CEO to demand an apology," the press release quoted PPPD Chief Dan Giustino as saying.

Before the day was out, protesters were showing up at the Arby's and telling customers, "Don't eat here. They hate cops."

Later in the day, the head of the Broward County police union issued a press release that blamed the Arby's incident on, unbelievably, Barack Obama:

“This behavior is unacceptable. The distain and lack of respect for law enforcement, as well as the fatal attacks on the men and women in uniform in America, is due to a lack of leadership—starting with our Commander-in-Chief, President Barack Obama,” said Jeff Marano, the BCPBA President.

The only thing Marano left out of his press release was an accusation that Davenport took his marching orders in the "war on cops" directly from the White House.

And here in Miami-Dade, Dade County Police Benevolent Association president John Rivera said, "This is yet another example of the hostile treatment of our brave men and women simply because they wear a badge. It is unacceptable and warrants much more than an apology. We are calling for a national boycott of Arby’s."

Both Marano and Rivera also called for the dismissal of the Arby's employees.

And that's ironic, because as Miami Herald columnist Fred Grimm writes in a column for Sunday's paper, it's much easier to fire a fast food worker than it is to shit-can a dirty cop.

From Grimm's column:
Of course, calling for the termination of someone — at least someone who is not an police chief or a mayor not amenable to the demands of the PBA — was jarring coming from Rivera, whose union regularly fights to reinstate police officers dismissed for rather more egregious behavior than the Arby’s incident.

Let me quote, instead, Jeff Marano, president of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association.“It’s not a career-ender. Did he do something silly? Yeah, but you don’t execute a person for that.”

Oh, sorry. My mistake. Marano was not referring to the Arby’s kids fired last week. No, that was Marano in 2014 defending the job of another clown, a Broward County Sheriff’s deputy who had driven his patrol car, with two drunken civilian friends aboard, one passed out in the back seat, down Las Olas Boulevard and through the Himmarshee Village entertainment district. All the while, the deputy’s friend was using the patrol car loudspeaker to direct salacious remarks toward female pedestrians along the way.

Marano argued to save that jokester’s job. He was not so forgiving of the Arby’s transgressors. He issued a statement last week declaring, “This behavior is unacceptable.”
Marano and Rivera, in their demand for the heads, and quickly, of a couple of young underpaid workers in the service industry, were utterly bereft of any sense of irony. Both are famous defenders of bad eggs. So long as they’re wearing a badge.

The Arby's manager has been fired, but Davenport will get to keep his job, according to Local 10.

Who knows, maybe Kenneth Davenport will leave his job at Arby's, apply to become a cop at a South Florida police department and one day fly helicopters for that department.


Miami Herald - Fred Grimm: Firing an Arby's worker is easier than getting rid of a bad cop

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