“Community Outreach Operation”
A police captain filed a lawsuit Wednesday against his employers, alleging that he was wrongly disciplined for refusing to order subordinates to attend an upcoming event at an Islamic center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
This courageous police captain was initially disciplined for refusing to require his subordinates to attend an event at a Muslim Brotherhood mosque in Tulsa. So he filed a federal suit against the Tulsa Police Department asking for $1 in damages on each of two claims. This guy has principles.
Capt. Paul Fields, a 16-year police veteran, is suing the Tulsa Police Department (TPD) for
allegedly infringing on his rights.
“We want to make it very clear; it’s not related just because it’s a mosque. [That] hasn’t anything to do with his ultimate decision,” said Field’s attorney, Scott Wood, in an interview with NewsOn6.com.
“It has to do with the intersection of religious rights of an individual to not associate with other people if they choose not to.”
The TPD defended its decision, insisting police officers had to be a part of religious functions. “We’re not going there because they’re Islamic, we’re going because they’re Tulsa citizens,” said Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan.
The Islamic Center of Tulsa had invited all police officers for its law enforcement appreciation day, which is scheduled for next month.
Memos indicate that attendance was initially voluntary. However, Deputy Chief Daryl Webster ordered each patrol division to send six officers and three supervisors, when no one signed up.
A flier from the religious center said that the event would have a “casual come and go atmosphere,” and that officers were welcome to leave at their own discretion. Webster, however, insisted that officers stay no less than half an hour.
Fields felt requiring officers to attend the event was unlawful and in direct conflict with their civil rights.
“This is not a police ‘call for service,’ which I would readily respond to, as required by my Oath of Office,” Fields wrote to his superiors. “Instead, it is an invitation to, tour a mosque, meet Muslim leadership, watch a congregational prayer service, and receive ‘presentations on beliefs, human rights and women.’”
After sending the letter, Fields was notified that effective Feb. 21 he was to be temporarily transferred while under investigation by the department’s Internal Affairs administration for his refusal to follow a direct order.
“This is a community outreach operation, a function of community policing which is every bit as much a part of this department’s mission,” Webster contended.
Webster pointed out that in the past, police officers were present at a Jewish community center gathering, in addition to Catholic church services and events. He said that on each occasion, the department chose to participate.
He also said that he was not aware of any prior objections for attending religious venues.
Prior to his transfer, Capt. Paul Fields had received many commendations and never faced disciplinary action.