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Police association suspends approval for 'Islam in America' course

The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police said they are not "pulling for either side." They just want to make sure the training is given in an impartial fashion.
Credit: Brock, Savannah

Following a Monday press conference held by several civil rights groups criticizing an anti-terrorism course to be taught to Barrow County Sheriff's deputies later this week, the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police confirmed on Tuesday it had suspended its approval of the course.

"I want a class that is unbiased in nature," said Frank Rotondo, the GACP Executive Director.

The course is taught by the former police chief of the City of Woodstock, David Bores.

Rotondo told 11Alive News he spoke with Bores and told him he is suspending approval of the course for police chiefs and their officers at least until after the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council re-evaluates whether to continue certifying the course for all law enforcement officers in Georgia -- police officers and Sheriff's deputies and others.

Rotondo said the GACP is not “pulling for either side.” They just want to make sure the training is given in an impartial fashion.

“I don’t want any biases taught in classes," Rotondo said. "The classes should be without politics and without editorial comments.”

Following GACP’s decision to suspend approval of the course, 11Alive reached out to Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith who said Bores will teach the course to his deputies, as scheduled, on March 8. As it is, Bores' training course is still on the approved list by the POST Council while POST reviews it.

RELATED | Barrow sheriff responds to ‘Islam in America’ training

Bores told 11Alive News he welcomes the scrutiny, and insists his course focuses on anti-terrorism techniques for local law enforcement-- without being anti-Muslim.

"The majority of Muslims in this country, I firmly believe, are peaceful and law-abiding," Bores said. "In fact, jihadists are killing more Muslims than they're killing non-Muslims, and they, too, need our protection."

The name of the course he will teach on Thursday in Barrow County, Bores said, is not "Islam in America" and it is not a religion course. The name of the course is "The Muslim Brotherhood and the Ideology of Islamism: How They Challenge Local Law Enforcement."

"I introduce local law enforcement officers to the Islamic threat that has declared war against the United States," Bores said. "Various terrorist groups have declared war against us--ISIS, Al Qaeda and others. We have domestic terrorists who have attacked us repeatedly... and local law enforcement officers need to know and understand all of the various complexities of this threat, and how best to deal with it.... Law enforcement officers have to have the necessary tools to distinguish, to know how to distinguish, between peaceful, law-abiding Muslims and those who are either trying to kill us through violence, or subvert our Constitution."

Sheriff Smith said he extended an invitation to critics of the course, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the ACLU. There is still room available for Thursday’s training and Sheriff Smith said all local law enforcement officers are welcome to attend.

Ryan Powell, a spokesperson with POST, said they received the letter of concern from CAIR in December. Powell said the course on Thursday is the first one that Bores has taught to law enforcement officers since the letter of complaint.

POST will have a representative at the Barrow County training to re-evaluate the course.

“We don’t want to jump to any judgments,” Powell said. “We are taking these complaints seriously.”

During Monday’s press conference, Edward Ahmed Mitchell, Director of CAIR, said his team and colleagues gathered videos, audio and course plans from Bores' classes offered to community groups over the years, and printed a report, containing quotes they attributed to Bores. Mitchell said he presented the report to POST and to the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office.

“In the report, you will see, that Mr. Bores has been teaching some of the most virulent and horrible bigotry that you can imagine,” Mitchell said.

CAIR's report broke down various classes Bores taught from 2012 to as recently as November 2017. In the November meeting, Mitchell documented Bores delivering remarks to SONG Alliance, a Newton County organization. The title of the training was named "What We Don't Know About Mosques" and the CAIR report stated Bores said, "Think of a mosque as an armory. Because mosques have traditionally been used for military purposes."

Mitchell said that, in the long term, he hopes POST, which is in charge of law enforcement training across the state, will agree not to certify these classes any longer, and to bring in someone who is “legitimate and trained to teach anything related to the Muslim community.”

Bores said CAIR has been trying to silence not only him, but instructors of similar courses in other states, including in Florida and Virginia, by disparaging them and accusing them of bigotry.

"They (CAIR leaders) don't want local police to understand this threat... so I'm not at all concerned about CAIR's allegations. This is typical, this is what they do. They've never attended one of my course for law enforcement, they're taking bits and pieces and totally misrepresenting what I teach" to law enforcement officers.

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