FEBRUARY 24, 2011
An Oklahoma police captain with an impeccable service record has been disciplined for refusing to order officers under his command to attend an Islamic event at aTulsa mosque.The unbelievable story was first reported by an Oklahoma news station that obtained internal memos detailing how the Tulsa Police Department punished one of its top brass for dodging a rather bizarre assignment; to attend the Islamic Society’s law enforcement appreciation day and command his officers to do the same.The veteran cop, Captain Paul Fields, said the order conflicted with his personal religious convictions and violated his civil rights. He added that attending prayer service at a mosque, meeting Muslim leadership and sitting through a presentation of Islamic beliefs was not related to his work as a police officer. Fields, a 16-year veteran who has earned many commendations, assured that he would respond diligently to a call for police service.Fields was promptly investigated by Tulsa Police internal affairs for violating the department’s obedience policy and he subsequently got “reassigned.” The department memos linked in the story indicate that the Muslim event, scheduled for next month, was originally voluntary to attend but few officers signed up and it became mandatory.A deputy chief distributed a follow up memo ordering each patrol division to send six officers and three supervisors to the event, which is described as a “community outreach operation” that’s as much a part of police work as responding to calls. The department has participated in similar outreach events at a Jewish center and various churches that cater to African Americans and Hispanics, the assistant chief said.Captain Fields remains adamant that he should not be forced to attend the Islamic gathering and has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that his First Amendment rights were violated by the department and the deputy chief who ordered him to. He is asking for $1 in damages.A separate case involving Muslim rights put Oklahoma in the headlines just a few months ago. The state actually got sued over a voter-approved measure prohibiting courts from considering Sharia law—the authoritarian doctrine that inspires Islamists and their jihadism—when ruling on cases. The suit claims the law is “anti-Islam” and unconstitutional because it forbids judges from contemplating Islamic principles.
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