For the first time in a few years, I'm genuinely torn on an issue. Controversy erupts over an alleged affront to an East Brunswick police officer over lunch. According to the report, the officer noticed the word "pig" scrawled on a pizza box and addressed it with the folks behind the counter. The resulting conversation lead to the officer leaving without her lunch or a reimbursement.

On today's broadcast, I spoke at length to the owner of the pizza place, Frank Mancini.  He explained that the scribbled sharpie writing on the box was their standard marking for an order of garlic knots and the whole thing is a misunderstanding. He claimed to be a contributor to the PBA and a vocal supporter of law enforcement. Gotta say, he was convincing today.

Here's my take. On one hand I support police unequivocally as they are the ones putting their lives on the line every day for us. Additionally it seems that cops have every right to be vigilant in pointing out every time an establishment turns away a cop or otherwise insults their profession. Given the anti-cop sentiment in the media and among radical groups like AntiFa and BLM, the police reaction is understandable. In this case however, I'm having a hard time believing that a local pizza shop frequented by cops would risk it all for a quick insult to a local cop.

Should they have handled it better? Apologized to the police? Offered some "peace-making" pizza? Sure. But they are a small business struggling like the rest of us to make ends meet. Making the situation look worse, they took their Facebook page down and I asked if that was because of the rumor that it contained anti-cop posts. The owner denied that and remained consistent that the page was taken down because of the torrent of hate from people assuming they were anti-cop.

What's interesting is that I've talked to some cop friends about the incident and the reality is this was not anything they were interested in publicizing...just a small mini-boycott to a place that they believe mistreated a fellow officer. It's a tough one for sure.

Given the history of insults at certain establishments over the past few years arising out of the false narrative pushed by BLM and talking heads I'm inclined to give the officers a pass on the reaction. But after hearing the owner discuss the issue and remain completely consistent with his earlier interview with our news department, I'm also sympathetic to his situation.

I'll keep you posted as I've reached out to both side hoping that they'll connect and move past this.

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Bill Spadea is on weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey and taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea.

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