Junction City recently made international news for all the wrong reasons when a Herington Police Department officer falsely accused employees at the Washington Street McDonalds of writing the words “f—ing pig” on his coffee cup Saturday.
A post by Herington Chief of Police Brian Hornaday about the incident on his personal Facebook, decrying whoever had written the expletives on his unnamed officer’s cup, quickly gained traction, spreading like wildfire across social media.
While it quickly came to light that the claims were baseless and the officer has since resigned his post with the Herington Police Department, the incident left many people shaken and upset. Both members of the civilian population and law enforcement officers feel the incident left a stain on the profession.
Just recently, the Herington Police Department issued a formal, public apology to McDonalds and its employees and Hornaday did take part in a press conference Monday evening where he spoke about the incident.
Tuesday morning, the Junction City Police Department and the Geary County Sheriff Department went to the McDonalds on Washington Street to begin the work of removing that stain and bridge the gap that had formed between themselves and McDonalds — and the general public. Officers from both departments attended a Tuesday morning coffee at McDonalds where they communicated with McDonalds employees and made themselves visible to community members.
While the Sheriff’s Department and the JCPD did not take part in the investigation of the coffee cup incident, both departments felt the need to address the problem and show unity afterwards.
Both the Sheriff’s Department and the JCPD had publicly commented on the situation as it developed over the weekend.
According to Geary County Sheriff Dan Jackson, the incident and its aftermath has left local law enforcement thinking hard about what they say on social media and verifying the facts before posting something.
Going forward, he said, his department will continue to interact with the public as it has in the past.
"We're out here just like we were before this incident,” Jackson said. "We're here for (members of the public.) We're unified — tight — for our community. And once again, we're making sure we're staying open to being accountable for our actions."
Capt. Trish Giordano of the JCPD was among the law enforcement officers who attended the coffee.
According to Giordano, both local law enforcement agencies wanted people to know "we are here for you no matter what, even if it had happened.”
Even if the accusations had turned out to be true, she said, it would have been viewed as "an isolated incident.”
Monday evening, Hornaday called the incident “a black eye” for law enforcement and Giordano feels this assessment is correct.
“Not everybody likes cops,” Giordano said. “Unfortunately, that’s true. And then the fact that a cop did something that betrayed the public's trust makes it worse on every cop, not just not just us, not just Herington, not just the Sheriff's Department — every cop in the in the United States. It looks real bad.”
Also present was local McDonalds Director of Operations Lenor Brazzi.
Brazzi said reception for local law enforcement from the public and from her employees at the coffee was positive.
"They're tough folks,” she said of her workers. “They stood up to this and and and handled it just like champs."
She said she appreciated local law enforcement’s willingness to come out and talk with McDonalds and its workers. According to Brazzi, McDonalds and its employees hoped things would return to normal as the dust began to settle around the incident.
“It was a process,” she said. “At the end of the day we stick to what we do well which is follow our policies and procedures and handle these things and we've just got to take care of our customers and put our business first."