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Downstate Denny’s boots cops for wearing guns

This Wednesday Jan. 2 2013 phoshows Denny's restaurant South Ilinois Street Belleville Ill. Belleville's police chief has banned his on-duty

This Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013 photo shows the Denny's restaurant on South Ilinois Street in Belleville, Ill. Belleville's police chief has banned his on-duty officers from the restaurant after several detectives were told they couldn't have their guns inside _ a dustup the restaurant calls a misunderstanding. (AP Photo/Belleville News-Democrat, Tim Vizer)

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BELLEVILLE, Ill. — Belleville’s police chief on Thursday lifted a ban from Denny’s he imposed briefly on officers after several detectives were told they couldn’t have their guns inside.

Belleville’s police chief on Thursday lifted a ban on his officers from patronizing Denny’s, a restriction he had imposed after several detectives were told they could not bring their guns inside.

Police Chief William Clay lifted the ban after talking with Denny’s operations director Van Catchings, who requested the meeting to discuss the Tuesday incident at a Belleville restaurant.

Police Capt. Donald Sax told the Bellville News-Democrat that Catchings apologized for the manager’s action, saying it was inconsistent with Denny’s corporate policy that welcomes any law enforcement officer to carry their weapon.

Sax said the plain-clothed detectives had badges on their belts or around their necks while dining, but a Denny’s manager told them to take their guns back to their cars. The request came after a diner saw an officer was armed and complained.

Sax said that although a detective identified the diners as officers, the manager still insisted the guns be removed from the premises, citing a posted company policy barring anyone other than uniformed officers from carrying their guns into the restaurant.

A Denny’s general manager who saw the officers get up and refuse to pay for their meal told them the manager was mistaken, but the “embarrassed” detectives ignored the general manager’s appeal for them to stay and left anyway, Sax said.

Clay said he’s a fan of social media, but sometimes it puts “an issue in the public domain that should be resolved in private face-to-face meetings.” The incident involving the detectives circulated rapidly Tuesday and Wednesday on social media sites.

“Denny’s on South Illinois is a Belleville business. They pay sales tax and provide employment for many Belleville residents,” Clay said in a statement. “I have patronized Denny’s in the past and will continue to do so in the future. This was an unfortunate incident by an individual employee; it has been made right.”

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert said he’s pleased the matter has been resolved.

“Everybody seems satisfied with Denny’s response,” he said, adding that it was “unfortunate that it happened.”

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