Whataburger employee fired for refusing to serve Denison police officers

- A Whataburger employee is out of a job after Denison police say she refused to serve two of their officers and even cursed at them.

Denison Police Lt. Mike Eppler told FOX 4 two managers got involved in the dispute, and ultimately another employee wound up serving them.

The Denison Police chief took to social media Saturday about the incident, saying in part, “There's no need to curse us and make a scene, just let us know you don't want us there and we'll go somewhere else..."

Denison resident Wayne Underwood said he isn’t happy about the dispute either, “I believe the officers should have been treated with respect,” he said.

“I think it's appalling to also deny service based on the fact the officers were law enforcement officers,” said Catherine Giles.

Whataburger said it launched an internal investigation and released a statement saying the employee "...acted out of line with Whataburger's values to treat all customers with respect. We took swift action and this person is no longer employed by us."

Denison police said Whataburger also reached out directly to apologize.

Police said they are not used to this kind of response in Denison.

“The citizens go out of their way to show home much they appreciate us and they thank us on a regular basis,” said Lt. Eppler.

Denison police said the employee who refused to serve them raised issues about the arrest of her boyfriend, saying officers beat him up a few weeks ago.

But they went back to look at the arresting officer's dash cam and determined it was just a routine arrest.

Lt. Eppler said the department hates to see anyone lose their job, but they are glad the restaurant is taking this seriously.

The Denison Police Chief's full statement can be read below:

"The Denison Police Department enjoys great support from most of our community and our businesses. I get it, especially with the anti-police rhetoric from the national media and police-hate groups we see in the country, that many people buy into that rhetoric and dislike police. Most of those that I have come across in my career that hate cops are very familiar with us because many have a lengthy history of arrests or have friends or family members with such a history. I get all this and we get used to it for the most part.

But when 2 of my officers were refused service by an employee of a local restaurant on October 14 just after midnight, then cursed by that employee and the on-duty manager's only response is, "I don't get into politics", that concerns me. If a business does not want police officers as customers, just let us know. There's no need to curse us and make a scene, just let us know you don't want us there and we'll go somewhere else.

Now going somewhere else in Denison in the middle of the night is not easy because our officers don't have many options. What really gets my goat with such an incident is that while most of us are sleeping  sleeping!, the officers are out there working hard to keep us safe and when trying to take a break to eat  they face this type of reception from an employee of a local business and management calls it "politics"? The employee also said she would continue to refuse to serve officers. Now we know and rest assured officers will no longer patronize this business. Many of the officers also fear food-tampering with an attitude like this from such an employee.

As we most always try to do when there is a conflict, a police supervisor went to the restaurant and asked to speak to the employee in an effort to understand why she felt the way she did toward police. The employee alleged "cops beat up my boyfriend and are racists". When questioned further, the employee said her boyfriend was "beat up" when arrested by DPD a few weeks ago. The police supervisor went to the station and found the documentation of the arrest, then reviewed the video or audio of the arrest from the arresting officer's dash cam. It was a "routine" arrest. There was no physical altercation and no one injured. So the employee was simply lying about her boyfriend getting "beat up" by police.

I've seen similar service refusal stories like this around the state and country but never thought we'd see it locally. Yet, while disappointing that this one business takes or supports such an anti-police stance, we relish in the fact the majority of the Denison businesses and citizens we serve greatly support us and what we do to try to keep our community safe.

Oh, one last thing……Even though this one business accepts employees that refuse to serve and then curse cops, I guarantee you when they call 9-1-1 and need us, we'll come running. That's what cops do."

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