Howell police, Five Guys restaurant move on from ‘piggies’ remark
HOWELL — Police chief Andrew Kudrick ate lunch Saturday at the same Five Guys restaurant where a teen employee called five uniformed officers "piggies" as they waited for their order the night before, as Kudrick outlined how the community would "move on from this."
The 17-year-old boy who made the remark to his co-workers loud enough for the officers to hear it was fired immediately after the incident came to light, according to store owner Stephen Gilmartin.
Kudrick called the teen a "misguided young man" in a statement posted to the Howell Police Facebook page, where he also encouraged the community to continue to support the restaurant, including a law enforcement appreciation event Wednesday from which "100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Howell PBA."
Howell officers had been dining Friday at the quick service restaurant along Route 9 south with local business owner Bernie J. Gernay. Gernay, who owns Ultimate Tree Service, then posted about the incident on the Facebook group Howell Happenings NJ.
"We gathered in disbelief outside all conferring on whether at that time it was best to leave the establishment and have dinner elsewhere, which we did," Gernay told New Jersey 101.5.
The police chief met Saturday morning with Gilmartin and the Five Guys area manager at police headquarters, before Kudrick then visited the Five Guys and ate with the area manager, identified only by her first name, "Courtney."
"The conversation was meaningful. Both were genuinely upset and stressed over this incident. They also requested to issue a public statement condemning the incident while strongly supporting law enforcement," Kudrick wrote on the Howell police Facebook page.
Kudrick said he also met with a manager who had been reported as laughing at the "piggies" comment. That manager said it was a nervous reaction to the comment and being taken aback by the teenager's conduct. Kudrick said the manager was the person who reported the incident to Courtney.
"I am confident this incident was handled swiftly and appropriately. The employee was terminated even before this incident made it to social media. I believe this is to be an isolated incident caused by a poor decision by a part-time employee. It is definitely not the culture of this business. In fact, management and ownership is overwhelmingly supportive of law enforcement. This includes not only how they handled this incident but their previous history as well," Kudrick said.
State PBA president Patrick Colligan, who angrily tweeted about the incident on Friday was pleased with the resolution.
"I believe the fast response by ownership and the community outreach says a lot. I support the efforts to move beyond the incident," Colligan said.
Neither the restaurant nor police have publicly identified the teen who made the comment Friday night before being fired.
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