Three New York police officers were taken to hospital on Monday night after drinking milkshakes at a Shake Shack in the city that they said had an unfamiliar taste, police officials told Fox News.
The burger chain did not immediately respond to an after-hours email from Fox News, but the incident raised speculation within police unions that the drinks were tampered with given the recent incidents involving police officers across the country.
Paul DiGiacomo, the president of the Detective Endowment Association Board of Directors, said the NYPD officers were “intentionally poisoned by one or more workers” at the restaurant in Lower Manhattan.
The officers are expected to recover.
“Police in New York City and across the country are under attack by vicious criminals who dislike us simply because of the uniform we wear,” Mr DiGiacomo said in a statement.
“Emboldened by pandering elected officials, these cowards will go to great lengths to harm any member of law enforcement.”
Patrick J. Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of the City of New York, said the police officers were working as protest detail and stopped at the location on Broadway and Fulton St.
He said that one of the police officers “discovered that a toxic substance, believed to be bleach, had been placed in their beverages”.
“When New York City police officers cannot even take meals without coming under attack, it is clear that environment in which we work has deteriorated to a critical level,” he said.
The police department said it is still investigating the incident and cannot make any determination on the substance in the drink or if it was put there intentionally.
Cities across the US including New York have seen widespread protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Protesters said that the Floyd death – which was caught on video – is an example of how police unfairly target the black community.
Police unions have said the accusation is inaccurate and unfair. They have criticised the news media for promoting the narrative that police officers are bad and say the rhetoric puts their lives in danger.
“We cannot afford to let our guard down for a moment,” Mr Lynch said.