As is so often the case, the real menace signaled by the incident where a Denny’s restaurant in firearmophobic Illinois told detectives they had to take their naughty guns outside (“Belleville cops booted from Denny's for toting guns”) isn’t the official foo poo itself: Denny’s mitigated that more or less immediately.
The incident began about 10 a.m. Tuesday when five Belleville detectives went into the Denny’s at 1130 South Illinois Street, ordered food and began to eat. The detectives had badges on their belts or on chains around their necks, but they weren’t in uniform.
Belleville Capt. Donald Sax said restaurant manager David Rice then approached and told one of the detectives that a diner had complained about seeing one of the detectives carrying a gun.
Even though the detective told Rice all at the table were police officers, Rice insisted the detectives take their guns back out to their cars, Sax said.
According to Sax, Rice then told the officers that it is company policy to allow only uniformed officers to carry their guns into a restaurant and that a sign on the door stated that policy.
The officers all got up to leave, refusing to pay for their meal. As they were leaving, Sax said a Denny’s general manager, Michael Van, approached the group. He told them Rice was wrong and it was fine for them to stay and to keep their guns.
The detectives, whom Sax described as “embarrassed” by the incident, decided to leave anyway. Sax said the detectives made a point to check the door on their way out.
“There was no sign on the door (regarding firearms),” Sax said. “They all looked for it.”
Belleville Police Chief William Clay later issued an order to his troops, banning them from eating at that Denny’s when they are on duty or when they’re off duty and still in uniform. Off-duty and out of uniform, officers can eat where they want.
What worries me is the stage of civic degeneration we’ve reached when a diner in an example of Americana like Denny’s actually feels justified taking offense at the mere sight of a holstered firearm borne by a police officer, and that a restaurant manager would then actually respond with what the Belleville PD press release accurately called the “political stupidness” of insisting the detectives take their scary guns outside.
It’s this mentality, combining many times a day in small transactions like this, multiplied, that breaks us all down.
Is anyone surprised at all that public school administrators not only suspended a six-year old for pointing his fingers at classmates and saying “Pow,” but thereafter stated in a disciplinary letter to the boy’s parents that the finger-pointing was “a threat ‘to shoot a student’”? (“Boy, 6, suspended from Silver Spring school for pointing finger like a gun”).