Windsor police to investigate officer who posted Arby’s photo

Windsor Police Headquarters, June 18, 2018. Blackburn News file photo.

Windsor police have raised the possibility of disciplinary action against an off-duty officer who put up a post suggesting an on-duty colleague was refused service at a fast-food restaurant.

In a statement late Monday afternoon, police alluded to a situation at an east-end Arby’s restaurant on Friday, in which it was inferred that two restaurant employees had refused to serve the on-duty officer in protest.

Police corroborated the statement given Sunday afternoon by Arby’s of Windsor-Leamington, which stated that the on-duty officer’s order was indeed processed, but when the officer saw the two employees taking a knee, he cancelled the order, got a refund, and left the restaurant.

Sergeant Steve Betteridge, public information officer, said the post was shared with an off-duty colleague, who put it online with what turned out to be misleading information.  Now, that off-duty officer will be subjected to an internal review.

“The officer shared his experience and the photo with an off-duty officer who, in turn, posted both the photo and the inaccurate detailing of events to his personal social media account,” said Betteridge. “The off-duty officer implied in his post that this Arby’s restaurant should not count on the off-duty police officer responding to their location should they need it. The conduct of the off-duty officer is now under internal review. At no time did the Windsor Police Service commence an investigation into the Arby’s restaurant or its employees.”

The post, which was widely circulated, showed the two employees kneeling, in what has become a common method of protesting violence by police officers against the black community. Such protests have been commonplace since the death of George Floyd, a Minnesota man who died after being caught on tape being held down by a police officer’s knee for almost nine minutes.

The Arby’s post had generated an outcry over the weekend and invoked calls from members of the community for the restaurant employees shown in the photo to be fired.

The original post was taken down, but not before it became viral.

Betteridge went on to say that Windsor police respects the right of people to protest, while applauding the work of its officers in the field. He also said that officers are expected to demonstrate a responsible use of social media, whether on duty or not.

“What happened between the on-duty officer and the employees of the Arby’s compels constructive discourse rather than animosity,” said Betteridge. “We have reached out to all parties involved with an invitation for dialogue, including the affected employees at the Arby’s restaurant.”