Oklahoma City police officials have launched an investigation into whether state Labor Commissioner Lloyd Fields was given special treatment by a police officer, The Oklahoman has learned. Meanwhile, Fields issued a public apology Tuesday for "an incident” in which he was taken to Oklahoma City's detox center after he was suspected of stealing a professional bull rider's guitar at a party. "I acknowledge an incident occurred last Saturday night, however, it was simply a misunderstanding of a practical joke among friends gone bad,” Fields said in a brief statement. "I am embarrassed about the incident and take full responsibility. I apologize for my actions and ask for forgiveness.” Fields allegedly was drunk when he was detained by Oklahoma City police, but he was not arrested or charged. Police did not fill out an incident report. Instead, he was taken to an Oklahoma City detox center. An official initially told The Oklahoman on Monday that Fields was kept the standard 10 hours before being released. However, the official said Tuesday that Fields was only kept 4½ hours before being released to the custody of an Oklahoma City police officer. Police have provided some information about the incident, but repeatedly have refused to identify Fields as the person detained and taken to the detox center. Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty contends state law prohibits police from identifying individuals who have not been "technically arrested.” Citty still did not discuss Fields by name Tuesday, but said the police department has opened a "personnel investigation” into an incident at the detox center last weekend where an officer checked somebody out early or signed to allow somebody to be released early. "We don't want our officers doing anything inappropriately or giving some special treatment. We're going to look into it, absolutely,” Citty said. Some people also have questioned whether Fields was given special treatment when he was taken to the detox center rather than jail, but Citty said police were not investigating the initial decision to take the detainee to the detox center. Fields did not return telephone calls Monday and Tuesday. He refused The Oklahoman's invitation to elaborate on the self-described "practical joke” that led to his being detained or to give his version of events. Mannix D. Barnes, the commissioner's chief of staff, said Fields has no plan to resign. Barnes said he and the commissioner would not comment beyond Fields' one paragraph statement. Fields issued his apology Tuesday morning, about the same time Gov. Brad Henry told a reporter that Fields probably owed the public an explanation and apology. The governor said he didn't know any details about the incident, "but at the very minimum, the commissioner owes the public an explanation and an apology.” "I'm disappointed about what I've read (in the newspaper), but I think the commissioner needs to explain his actions,” Henry said. "And if an apology is warranted — and it appears that it is — then an apology should be made to the public.” Fields, 50, reportedly was tackled by witnesses after taking a performer's guitar at an "after party” that followed the Professional Bull Riders Inc. Copenhagen Challenger Tour Championship event in Oklahoma City. The party was at the Cox Convention Center. Fields was turned over to off-duty Oklahoma City police officers who were working the door. Subsequently, he was transported to the Public Inebriate Alternative Center north of Bricktown. Fields, a Democrat, was elected labor commissioner in 2006. He previously served 10 years in the state House of Representatives. Contributing: Michael McNutt and John Greiner, Capitol BureauComments
The Oklahoman has repeatedly attempted to call Labor Commissioner Lloyd Fields for comment since Saturday night when he was taken to a city detox center after an incident at a Professional Bull Riders "after party.” He issued a statement Tuesday, but has otherwise failed to respond. The Oklahoman e-mailed Fields the following questions, but received no response by 6:30 p.m.: 1) Could you please tell us what happened Saturday night that led up to your being detained and taken to the detox center? 2) What was the joke you referred to in your statement? 3) Were you trying to steal the guitar, and if not, what were you doing with it? 4) Do you consider yourself to have been drunk that night? 5) When they tested you, what was your blood-alcohol level? 6) Some people have suggested you should resign over the incident. Do you plan to resign? 7) Do you believe you are an alcoholic or problem drinker? 8) If so, do you plan to seek treatment for your drinking problem? 9) What would you like to say to the people who elected you about the incident?