Arpaio warns deputies to use caution when eating at McDonald's

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By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron

PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is warning his deputies and officers to use caution when eating at McDonald's following an alleged incident at a Mesa restaurant on Thursday.

According to a news release from the sheriff's office, a uniformed deputy was verbally harassed in Spanish by food handlers at the McDonald's near Southern Avenue and Longmore.

The deputy said that he had ordered a meal when a number of employees saw him in his sheriff's uniform and started calling him and Arpaio racists.

The deputy, who speaks Spanish, confronted the workers about their remarks and refused to accept the food as a precaution. He later reported the incident to McDonald's corporate headquarters.

According to Arpaio, the restaurant was the target of an employer sanctions investigation by his office last March where four illegal immigrants were arrested for identification theft.

Three other nearby McDonald's businesses were also tied into that same investigation where 13 other illegal immigrants were arrested.

"I am not asking my employees to avoid McDonald's completely," Arpaio said. "But I do think that anytime one of them is in uniform or driving a marked vehicle, out of an abundance of caution, he or she should use some discretion when deciding where to eat."

Richard Coulston from McDonald's issued the following statement:

"Customer satisfaction is a top priority at my restaurant. I take these allegations very seriously.

"Upon learning of this situation yesterday, we took immediate action to gather the facts. At McDonald's, we have a zero tolerance policy against discrimination of any kind. My restaurant is no exception.

"Rest assured, this is certainly not reflective of my organization or the individuals who work for me."