On Monday night, three New York Police Department (NYPD) officers ended up in Bellevue Hospital claiming they had been poisoned. They claimed a Shake Shack employee had put bleach in their milkshakes.
The law enforcement community exploded. The Police Benevolent Association—the largest NYPD union—said that cops were “under attack.” The Detectives’ Endowment Association—the second-largest union in the city—characterized the incident as “intentional.” And an article in police magazine Law Enforcement Today rebuked Shake Shack for declaring its support for Black Lives Matter just weeks before the alleged incident took place.
Now, police advocates are quietly walking back their claims of wrongdoing after an NYPD investigation concluded “no criminality by Shake Shack’s employees.” It is still unknown how the milkshakes were contaminated. The most likely explanation appears to be leakage from improperly cleaned machinery ending up in their drinks accidentally.
The threats cops face rarely come from fast-food workers tampering with their meals, despite their insistence.
In 2017, One New Jersey cop mistook a “P~”—for “plain pizza and garlic knots”—on another customer’s order as “pig” and launched a boycott against the restaurant.
In another case, a police officer in Indianapolis alleged that a McDonald’s employee had taken a bite of his McChicken sandwich, before remembering later that month that he himself had started eating it.
An officer in Florida thought that a Burger King employee had placed dirt on his burger. The mystery additive was later revealed to be seasoning.
The Raleigh Police Department called out Smithfield’s Chicken ‘n’ Bar-B-Q on Facebook after workers allegedly taunted them with expletives. The employees were fully exonerated by video evidence.
In times of protest, these allegations become all the more ridiculous.
For instance, during protests in Portland in 2019, police claimed publicly that milkshakes filled with Quikrete, a fast-drying cement, were being thrown at protesters, despite eventually admitting there was no evidence of this.
Just two weeks ago, an internal NYPD memo warned officers that blocks of concrete disguised as tubs of ice cream were near a protest site. Twitter users pointed out that this is a common method of checking concrete mixes.
It’s true that many Americans are unhappy with and distrustful of law enforcement. Considering the violence many police officers feel entitled to visit on suspected criminals and peaceful protesters, they might operate under the impression that everyone else in America is equally capable of returning the misanthropy. In the cases above, that thankfully wasn’t true.