A police captain in Tulsa, Oklahoma, will file a lawsuit against the city police department today because it reassigned him after he refused to order his subordinates to attend an event at the city's mosque on March 4.
Paul Fields, a 41-year-old veteran who joined the force in 1995, refused to order officers under his command to attend the mosque's Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, he says, because it violated his First Amendment rights of association and religion and departmental policy.
"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," Scott Wood, Fields' attorney, told Tulsa's 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."
According to NewsOn6.com, attendance at the event was mandatory because no one wanted to attend. Each patrol division is supposed to send nine persons:
Memos show it was originally voluntary to attend, but because of a lack of people signing up, Deputy Chief Daryl Webster sent a memo saying each patrol division would send a total of 6 officers and 3 supervisors to the event.
Fields declined to attend, according to a memo he sent to a supervisors:
I take exception with requiring officers to attend this event. Past invitations to attend religious/non-religious institutions for similar purposes have always been voluntary. I believe this to be an unlawful order, as it is in direct conflict with my religious convictions, as well as to be conscience shocking.
This is not a police "call for service," which I would readily respond to, as required by my Oath of Office. 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." It is my opinion, and that of my legal counsel, that forcing me to enter a Mosque when it is not directly related to a police call for service is a violation of my civil rights.
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