Many first responders find themselves working on the weekends, on major holidays, and even on their own birthdays. Their families know it’s all part of the sacrifice. In fact, many law enforcement officers patronize eating establishments while on duty and in uniform. Even though they are taking their assigned break to eat, they are still required to have their firearms on them at all times in case of an emergency.
That was the case when Kansas City Police Officer Michael Holsworth agreed to meet his family at a local Olive Garden on his lunch break for his birthday. His family was late to arrive, so he was waiting for them at the front of the restaurant when an employee walked up to him and said, “Sir, we don’t allow guns in here,” according to Holsworth.
Officer Michael Holsworth on patrol (Credit: Facebook)
The Kansas City motorcycle patrolman described the situation. “Now mind you I am was in full police uniform, and on duty,” he explained. “I actually thought it was a joke at first, so I asked her, ‘Are you serious?’” he recalled. “She replied back with ‘Yes.’ So I told her, ‘Well, I can leave I guess.’ She then replied back, ‘Yes, please leave.’”
Officer Holsworth took to social media to share his experience. “Now I never in my wildest thoughts of thoughts this would happen in the Kansas City area,” Holsworth fumed in a Facebook post that was shared more than 12,000 times, according to Yahoo News. “I see it happening all over the United States to other officers but never thought it would happen to me.”
All hell broke loose for Olive Garden as the community backed the police officer and his family. According to Fox 43, “The news sparked outrage on Olive Garden’s Facebook and Twitter pages and the company quickly responded saying that Olive Garden loves serving law enforcement and the incident was a misunderstanding.” As the outrage continued, Olive Garden’s president personally issued an apology to Officer Holsworth.
Kansas City Police Officer Michael Holsworth (Credit: Facebook)
“Rich Jeffers, Olive Garden Spokesperson, said the president of the company, Dave George, called the officer by phone to apologize for the incident. Jeffers said it was not a member of management who told the officer to leave, but a hostess,” Fox 4 News reported. However, one reporter for Police Officer’s Magazine had a different take. “Olive Garden apologized for the incident and said it was because the officer was armed, not because he was a cop,” David Griffith reported. “And I’d like to throw the flag for 15 yards for BS on that explanation. I think this was a political statement by the restaurant’s employee.”
Brad Lemon, president of the Fraternal Order Of Police, also weighed in. “It’s been an incredibly difficult day for our brother, and our entire family,” he wrote on Facebook. “All we ever ask is to be treated fairly and with the same respect to due anyone else. When we are treated poorly because of our chosen occupation, it hurts. It’s not okay to treat law enforcement poorly. We deserve, and have earned, the same level of respect due to each and every member of society.”
Officer Holsworth also had some parting remarks about the entire situation. “My experience today at Olive Garden was extremely unfortunate,” he wrote. “I posted on Facebook about the treatment I received because I did not want other officers to be subjected to the same embarrassing situation that occurred today.”
“I had hoped to simply enjoy an uninterrupted birthday meal with my family,” Officer Michael Holsworth said. “I never believed I would be asked to leave a public restaurant because I was in full police uniform which requires me to carry my duty weapon,” he added. “It is my hope that Olive Garden handles this situation appropriately so no other officer has the same experience I had today,” he declared. “I ask that the media and others respect my privacy and devote their attention to altering the general narrative about police officers in a more positive direction so this type of situation does not occur in the future.”