CULPEPER, Va. (AP) - Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins says a law enforcement training program that critics have called anti-Muslim will go on as planned.
Jenkins plans to send about 20 members of his department to the three-day seminar, which will be presented by John Guandolo next week at Germanna Community College's Daniel Technology Center.
"I have no intention of backing down," Jenkins told The Free-Lance Star.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, and The Southern Poverty Law Center have called on Jenkins to cancel the seminars. They say Guandolo has a record of ant-Muslim extremism.
"His views on Islam are the equivalent of historical anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic falsehoods. Guandolo offers only his own prejudiced and inaccurate conspiratorial views, not solid counterterrorism training," Corey Saylor, director of CAIR's Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia, wrote in a letter sent last week to Jenkins.
Guandolo told an audience in Nashville, Tenn., in 2012 that local mosques are part of the Muslim Brotherhood and do not have a right to constitutional protections.
Josh Glasstetter with the Southern Poverty Law Center told the newspaper that Guandolo "has made a career out of spreading anti-Muslim conspiracy theories."
Jenkins said he is confident his employees will be able to separate facts from any theories.
"We've got sense enough not to take anything we might not agree with at face value," he said.
He said he researched Guandolo, including reading his book "Raising a Jihad Generation", and contacted him after he received emails criticizing him over the seminar.
"(These groups are) so alarmed that I am going to one of his sessions myself," he said.
He said he was surprised by the backlash.
"We were looking for ways to get training hours for our officers and somebody brought up this guy's name," Jenkins said. "Going out of town for training can be expensive and (Guandolo) would provide us with 24 hours of in-service training right here in town. It was a win-win situation for us."
Guandolo has also agreed to do a special two-hour seminar_at no extra charge_for local elected officials and the media, Jenkins said.
About 30 officers from other law enforcement agencies across the country have signed up for the training, he said.