By Bernie on 20 Aug 2012
Photo Credit: ABC News
When Deputy Police Chief Alvin Webster of the Tulsa Police Department in early 2011 could not find a single officer to volunteer to attend a "Law Enforcement Appreciation Day" at a local Islamic Cultural Society, he decided to make attendance mandatory. So he ordered Police Capt. Paul Campbell Fields to go to the event and to order a few of the 25 or so men under his command to accompany him.
Fields refused, saying that the order was an unlawful one, "in direct conflict with my personal religious convictions." The result was that Fields, a 17-year veteran, was docked two weeks' pay, transferred, reduced to the graveyard shift and made ineligible for promotions for at least a year. He is now suing the department (1).
My view of the matter is that unless officers are responding to a police emergency or working undercover to root out terrorists, they should not be attending events at any Islamic center. Instead of being punished for not attending, police officers (or any government employees) should be punished for actually attending events at a mosque or Islamic center.
FoxNews, 16 Aug 2012, Oklahoma police captain sues department over mosque assignment
A Tulsa police officer and devout Christian is suing his department after being punished for refusing to go to a mosque for a mandatory cultural event.
Fields, 43, is a non-denominational Christian, who quoted Scripture in legal explanation of his insubordination.
"This event is compelling me to go to a venue where a group of individuals is prepared to discuss their (Islamic) faith," Fields said during a May 2012 deposition, the transcript of which was obtained by FoxNews.com. "And in my faith, I have a duty to proselytize my faith to people (who) don't subscribe to my faith. I can't do that in uniform. And so therein lies the conflict or moral dilemma I face."
Fields' attorney, Robert Muise of The American Freedom Law Center, elaborated, "He was going to be in a place where people were going to refer to Jesus Christ as merely a prophet and not his Lord and Savior.
"And he wouldn't be able to respond to them in any way," Muise added. "That was very troubling to him."
Fields is seeking his docked pay, attorney's fees, as well as compensatory damages for the "humiliation" -- and damage to his reputation -- he suffered as a result of the affair.
The donnybrook has its origins in a Jan. 25, 2011, Tulsa Police Department staff meeting, in which Deputy Police Chief Alvin Webster informed fellow officers of the March 4 event at the Islamic center.
At that point, attendance was voluntary, according to the lawsuit.
The Islamic Cultural Center of Tulsa did not return calls or emails from FoxNews.com, but a promotional flier for the event cited in the suit states the event would include meetings with Muslim community leaders, a tour of the center's mosque, talks on Islam, as well as a 45-minute prayer service.
On Feb. 17, Webster sent out another email stating that attendance at the event was no longer voluntary, and that Fields was to order at least a few of the 25 or so men under his command to accompany him, there.
Fields replied that he believed the said order was an unlawful one, "in direct conflict with my personal religious convictions." In that email, Fields described Webster's order as, "conscience shocking."
Fields cc'd the department's chief, Charles W. Jordan, as well as other superiors on the email.
Four days later, Fields found himself explaining his actions at a meeting in Jordan's conference room. There, Webster asked -- on tape -- if Fields had solicited volunteers to attend the Islamic center's event.
“Yes, I have,” Fields replied, to which Webster asked, according to the suit, “Okay, and the response?”
"Is zero," replied the captain.
“All right," said Webster, "And so that makes this fairly easy. Are you prepared to designate two officers and a supervisor or yourself to attend this event?”
"No," said Fields, to which Webster replied by slapping the captain with the aforementioned punishments. Since then, Fields has toiled, according Muise, from 8:45 p.m. to about 7 a.m. on the "graveyard shift."
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