Chipotle Cops, or, How the NYPD Broke All the Rules by Eating Mexican

July 20, 2012 5:05 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
How one Chipotle broke all the rules. (Photo: Creative Commons)

When it comes to looking for a few good cops, those in-the-know look no further than the Chipotle Mexican Grill on Montague Street in Downtown Brooklyn.

No exception to the rushes typical of this fastest growing fast food chain, this branch of Chipotle enjoys a heavy flow of diners coming in during their allotted food breaks to partake of some of the freshest, healthiest fast food options around. But chief among the patronage of this particular branch are the police officers who have come to it with one thing in mind: a fifty percent off discount given to any cop who shows up in his uniform.

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This is the kind of thing that has to be kept a little hush-hush; so much so that, according to the restaurant's general manager, Gonzalo Romero, some officers who eat there may not be aware of the discount. "When they see [the deduction], they go, 'Thank you very much,'" Romero intimated.

However, for every cop that doesn't know about the extra dispensation, there are those who count on it and "eat [at the Montague Street Chipotle] all the time-- they know."

There's a long-standing tradition for New Yorkers to show their gratitude to cops working a beat through free food and coffee perhaps out of a certain thankfulness that the visual presence of a police force could protect them from those who wish to do them harm.

Unfortunately for the institutions willing to extend such off-the-books professional benefits, the Police Department's Patrol Guide explicitly prohibits officers from accepting any "compensation for any service performed as a result of or in conjunction with their duties as a public servant." In other words, as one commander puts it, "There should be no discount-- heavy or light-- whatsoever..." that extends to police officers but cannot extend to any other private or public citizens. In fact, if Internal Affairs puts the discounts on the record, they could bar police officers from frequenting the branch.

Chipotle shows no signs of backing down. A spokesman for the company explained that they have a "national policy that allows our restaurants to offer a discount (at the discretion of the restaurant) to the police in uniform, though it isn't mandatory that we offer and isn't mandatory that it is accepted."

In other words, the onus isn't on any one person involved in the exchange, but the good PR is all Chipotle's. Enjoy your burritos.

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