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Kay Jewelers has issued an apology to the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office after denying service to a deputy because he was wearing his service weapon when he tried to enter the Statesville store. Now the store manager is no longer with the company, according to a Facebook post on the company’s verified account.

Sheriff Darren Campbell outlined in a Facebook post Wednesday that a deputy was denied service at the Statesville store the previous day. The deputy was in full uniform, with his official car parked in front of the store, when he took his lunch break to pick up an engagement ring that had been purchased and sized in advance.

“(The deputy) was met at the door by the store manager, who informed him he was not allowed to wear his service weapon while on their premises,” Campbell said in the post. “The deputy informed the manager he was in uniform and his marked patrol car was in the parking lot, and it would be a violation of policy for him to remove his service weapon while in uniform ... The manager stated our deputy would need to return to the store at a different time when he was not armed. The deputy left the store, without the ring he had purchased.”

In a phone interview Thursday, Campbell explained that deputies aren’t allowed to disarm themselves while in uniform because it could detrimental, or even deadly, if they aren’t adequately equipped in the performance of their duties.

“It’s an insult,” Campbell said of the incident. He mentioned the sheriff’s office had tried multiple times to contact Kay Jeweler’s corporate office, but did not get an immediate response.

“We’re still awaiting their call,” he said Thursday afternoon prior to the Facebook post from the company. “I appreciate they’re trying to do the right thing.”

He acknowledged Kay Jewelers did comment of his Facebook post, and that he spoke with the district manager.

Kay Jewelers initially responded on Campbell’s Facebook page stating that the company has “tremendous respect for law enforcement” and saying they would be reinforcing store training.

On Thursday, the company issued a full response on its official social media pages.

“After learning of an incident involving a law enforcement officer in Iredell County, North Carolina, Kay Jewelers reached out immediately to the customer and the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office, and we sincerely apologized for the mishandling of this matter,” it read. “Our policy is that any member of law enforcement is always welcomed in our store at any time, as a customer or in an official capacity.

“We have tremendous respect for and closely work with law enforcement at all levels, and we thank the Office for bringing this to our attention.

“We are reinforcing store training regarding all of our Customer First policies, as well as specific policies related to law enforcement, in all of our stores.

“The store manager is no longer employed by the company.”

Hundreds of people had previously commented on the company’s Facebook page about the incident. Some people defended the staff’s actions, while others stated they’d never shop at the store again.

Some offered more than comments.

Jewelry stores throughout the area commented they’d be happy to offer their services to the deputy. Oz Hefner owns Oz’s Jewelers in Hickory; he said he thought the Kay Jewelers in Statesville made the wrong call.

Hefner said in a post “we welcome our armed officers to our store any time and can stay as long as they like. We have quite a few that we know personally and enjoy (their) company. This is sad that they cannot respect our officers.”

Campbell also expressed his confusion in the Facebook post.

“The reaction our deputy encountered is very difficult for us to comprehend, and we earnestly hope situations such as these are few and are diminishing,” he stated. “Thank you to the citizens and businesses in our area who whole-heartily support the men and women who wear the badge.”

The deputy’s name has not been released, Campbell said, but added the deputy’s girlfriend was informed of the incident and was vocal in her support of law enforcement.

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