The following statement was released Wednesday by Belleville Capt. Don Sax:
On Jan. 1, 2013, at approximately 10 a.m. five on duty detectives from the Belleville Police Department were eating at Denny's Restaurant, 1130 S. Illinois St., Belleville. Shortly after receiving their food orders, the restaurant manager David Rice approached and advised the female detective present that she needed to take her weapon out to her car or leave the restaurant. Initially the other four detectives thought that Mr. Rice was joking with the detective until she stated to Mr. Rice that she was a police officer and that all persons present at the table were police officers. Mr. Rice stated that he had a complaint from another customer about the weapon and she had to take the weapon outside or leave. Other detectives advised Mr. Rice that they were on duty Belleville Police Detectives. However the manager responded stating that company policy was that only officers in uniform may have weapons. Mr. Rice went on to state that there was a sign on the door indicating that weapons were only allowed in the restaurant if officers were in uniform. Detectives asked Mr. Rice what he wanted them to do, stop eating? Mr. Rice responded that they could take their food with them. The detectives advised the manager they would not leave weapons outside while on duty and stood up to leave. The detectives also told Mr. Rice that if they could not eat their food they were not going to pay for it. Mr. Rice responded that it was fine not to pay for it. Several patrons at other tables were watching and looking at the situation. As the detectives were leaving the restaurant, General Manager Michael Van walked up and advised Mr. Rice that it was fine for the detectives to be in the restaurant. At this point the detectives were very embarrassed and felt the situation was entirely too awkward for them to remain and all left the restaurant.
At the time of the incident three of the detectives had their badges clipped on their belt next to their duty weapon, and the other two had their badges hanging from a chain around their neck, all in plain sight. There were also several portable police radios on the table since the detectives were working so they could continue to monitor other police activities. Photos were taken yesterday morning of the detectives attire, as well as the entry doors at Denny's showing there was no sign posted on the door of the restaurant stating that police officers must be in uniform if they have a weapon.
Capt. Moody contacted Mayor Eckert and Chief Clay yesterday immediately after he learned of this incident. Mayor Eckert strongly supports the police department and hopes that this situation can be resolved in a responsible manner.
Chief Clay is out of the office today, however he will be addressing the situation with Denny's management upon his return. Until further notice from Chief Clay, all on-duty Belleville Police Officers are banned from Denny's Restaurant unless responding to an official call for service.
The Belleville Police Department is very disheartened by the lack of respect shown to on duty sworn police officers, and will be conducting follow up conversations with Denny's management to verify any policies they have in regard to weapons and police officers in uniform.
This statement was released Wednesday by Belleville Police Chief William Clay:
On Tuesday, January 1, 2013, at 10:29 a.m., I received a phone call from Capt. John Moody, chief of investigations, in reference to an incident involving several of our on-duty detectives at the Denny's Restaurant, located at 1130 S. Illinois, in Belleville.
I had hoped to meet privately with members of Denny's management on a regional level to discuss this policy and share our views. However in today's world of instant social media such events are difficult if not impossible to resolve confidentially. This matter has made its way to the press and I feel compelled to address it publicly.
All sworn (uniformed/non-uniformed) officers have been prohibited from entering Denny's Restaurant at 1130 S. Illinois for any meal or coffee breaks while on duty. Additionally no officers may enter the restaurant off-duty if in uniform. Normal or emergency calls for service by Denny's will continue to receive the appropriate law enforcement response from the Belleville Police Department. Detectives or other non-uniformed officers responding to a call for service shall 'Not Abide' by Denny's weapons prohibition policy. Any attempt to interfere or enforce this prohibition on responding police personnel may result in serious consequences to include arrest.
This was an insult, a slap in the face to those detectives and to all of the men and women who proudly wear the uniform or badge and serve in law enforcement. This individual Mr. David Rice was the manager of Denny's. He therefore speaks for Denny's in my mind.
This policy effectively prohibits on-duty sworn police officers from dining in a Denny's Restaurant, but allows "registered sex offenders," "felons" and or "pedophiles" to enjoy a dining experience in Denny's. While I am appalled at this policy I am sadly not shocked by it. We see so much political stupidness carried out in this day and age.
I am hopeful that this incident reflects on the poor judgment of one individual and not the Denny's Restaurant chain.