Okla. officer sues department over mosque assignment
A Christian police captain told his chief his faith prevented him from attending a required cultural event put on by the Islamic Cultural Society
By PoliceOne Staff
TULSA, Okla. — A Christian police captain is suing his department for punishments incurred after he refused to go to a mosque for a required cultural event.
Police Capt. Paul Campbell Fields, 43, told his chief his faith prevented him from attending a "Law Enforcement Appreciation Day" at the local Islamic Cultural Society, Fox News reported. According to a promotional flier, the event included meetings with Muslim community leaders, a mosque tour, talks on Islam and a 45-minute prayer service.
Deputy Police Chief Alvin Webster informed officers of the event in January 2011 during a Tulsa Police Department staff meeting, according to the article. On Feb. 17, Webster sent an email to Fields that he was to order some of the officers under his command to attend the event, which had become required.
Fields replied the order was "in direct conflict with my personal religious convictions."
Four days later, Webster asked Fields again to designate officers or himself to attend. When he refused, he was docked two weeks' pay, reduced to the overnight shift and barred from promotions for at least 12 months, Fox News reported.
Fields is seeking the docked pay, lawyer's fees and monetary compensation for the damage to his reputation as a result of the incident, which he described in a May deposition.
"This event is compelling me to go to a venue where a group of individuals is prepared to discuss their (Islamic) faith," Fields said. "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 said if he were required to enter a mosque for a police matter, he would have no problem with it, but the mandatory event was a different scenario.