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Downstate Denny's Asks Cops To Remove Guns, Sparks Police Boycott

By Chris Bentley in Miscellaneous on Jan 5, 2013 10:00PM

“America’s diner is always open,” is the Denny’s slogan—except briefly this week for police officers in downstate Belleville, thanks to a management snafu involving the restaurant chain’s firearm policy.

On New Year’s Day, location manager David Rice asked five on-duty detectives in plainclothes to remove their weapons or leave the restaurant, apparently following up on a complain from another diner. None of the officers were in uniform, but all had visible badges and there were police radios on the table.

They thought the manager was joking, but Rice explained a sign on the door prohibited weapons except for uniformed police officers. Denny’s allows law enforcement officials to carry weapons, so Rice’s request was apparently a misinterpretation of company policy. After he told the officers they could take their food with them if they chose to leave, Rice got word from the restaurant’s general manager that the cops could stay.

“At this point,” read a statement by Police Capt. Don Sax, “the detectives were very embarrassed and felt the situation was entirely too awkward for them to remain and all left the restaurant.”

So, Slam-less, they left. Belleville Police Chief William Clay then banned all on-duty officers from eating at the restaurant, calling the incident “an insult, a slap in the face.” Clay met with Denny's executives Thursday and subsequently lifted his ban. “I harbor no grudges,” he said in a statement. The restaurant offered Belleville police officers free meals on Friday.