Attorneys present arguments in case of TPD captain who refused to attend mosque event
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
12/11/12 at 5:25 PM
A Tulsa police captain who refused to attend a Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at an Islamic mosque was punished for raising a religious objection to an order, one of his attorneys argued during a hearing on Tuesday in Tulsa federal court.
However, Senior Assistant City Attorney Brandon Burris countered that Capt. Paul Fields was never required to personally set foot inside the mosque and that no officer was compelled to attend any religious services during the event at the Islamic Society of Tulsa’s mosque on March 4, 2011.
Fields, who also refused to order his subordinates to attend the event, was suspended for 40 hours without pay for allegedly violating the department’s rule on being obedient and another 40 hours for purportedly violating a rule on conduct unbecoming an officer. He also was temporarily transferred from the Police Department’s Riverside Division to another patrol shift at the Mingo Valley Division.
Fields sued in federal court on Feb. 23, 2011. Deputy Chief Daryl Webster, the city of Tulsa and Police Chief Chuck Jordan are the defendants.
An arbitrator found in September that the city failed to establish that it had ordered Fields to attend or to order others to attend and that the discipline for alleged violation of an order should be reversed. But he found that the discipline for conduct unbecoming an officer should be upheld.
He said Fields should receive the pay that was withheld as discipline for violation of an order and should get his former assignment back.
U.S. Chief District Judge Gregory Frizzell said at the outset of Tuesday’s hearing that he was not bound by the arbitrator’s ruling in his consideration of the federal lawsuit.
Tuesday’s hearing dealt with motions that have been filed by both sides which, if granted, would dispose of the case short of trial.
Read more in Wednesday's Tulsa World.
Tulsa police Capt. Paul Fields, who refused to attend a Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at an Islamic mosque, walks out of the Page Belcher Federal Building following a hearing in the civil case on Tuesday. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World