An incident at a San Francisco pizza place is fueling an ongoing debate about the public perception of the police.
An employee over the weekend told several San Francisco police officers they were not welcome in the restaurant and asked them to leave. Almost as soon as the story got out, the owner offered an apology and announced that the worker had been fired, but the controversy and backlash have been slow to cool down.
The owner of the Pizza Squared on Brannan Street told NBC Bay Area on Monday the employee who asked the officers to leave was a trainee on their fourth day and has since been fired. The owner has also apologized and has been communicating with the San Francisco Police Officers Association about the incident -- something the union acknowledged on its Twitter.
"We appreciate the owners swift apology, praise for the hard work our officers do, and the owner's commitment to meeting with the affected officers," the union said.
Get Connecticut local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Connecticut newsletters.
Several one-star reviews have popped up on Yelp for Pizza Squared directly referencing what happened and criticizing the decision to ask the officers to leave.
The weekend incident comes as many communities are again reexamining the role of police department across the country after Memphis police released graphic videos of several officers beating Tyre Nichols to death during a traffic stop earlier this month.
Officers involved in Nichols' death have been fired and criminally charged.
U.S. & World
In protests across the country over the weekend, some called for more reforms, including restricting police from certain roles like traffic enforcement. Others said they have gotten to a place where police make them feel more afraid than safe.
But it also comes as many San Francisco residents are pushing for more police to help combat the rise in open drug markets, property crimes and assaults on members of some communities.
At the moment, the San Francisco Police Department is understaffed by more than 500 officers and Chief Bill Scott said the department is having trouble recruiting new cops.
"Hold us accountable, make sure that we do things the way we're supposed to do things, but support us," Scott said. "Because if we have a city where police officers are supported, I think people will want to work here, rather than not work here.