After complaints about a course for law enforcement officials were received by officials, both the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council — which oversees the Barrow County and other sheriff’s offices in the state — and the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police said they would re-evaluate the course before offering credit.
Ken Vance, the executive director of POST said Friday that Thursday’s course in Barrow has not been determined as eligible for credit. He said they decided to re-evaluate the course work given by David Bores and expects to make a decision within the week.
“We do our due diligence in investigating complaints,” Vance told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We have not given credit for that course.”
The course, called “Islam in America,” was pulled earlier by the GACP, Executive Director Frank Rotondo said. He said he spoke to Bores about negative feedback he had received from a chief who’d attended the course.
The most recent negative feedback came Thursday, when Council on American-Islamic Relations Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said he and eight Muslims, including a Barrow County resident, were prevented by Sheriff Jud Smith from attending.
Mitchell shared email correspondence, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, with Smith and Bores, a former Woodstock police chief. In the first email chain, Bores approves of the idea of inviting church staff and security members to attend the training.
Two additional email chains show Smith denying CAIR Georgia’s request for Georgia Muslims to attend the course, Mitchell said. The reason, Smith said, was that the audience was limited to law enforcement and "leaders of places of worship" within the county.
Smith stands by his statement that the class is not anti-Muslim and that Bores does not believe all Muslims are violent. He cites specific examples of events that could inform law enforcement officials on detecting signs to keep the community safe.
The sheriff explained in his email to Mitchell that his office hosted similar courses on the KKK, Neo-Nazi and outlaw motorcycle gang groups.
Mitchell countered that once Smith invited private citizens to attend this training alongside law enforcement, he had to treat those private citizens equally, regardless of whether they believed in a faith, and regardless of whether they belonged to a house of worship.
“Multiple civil rights organizations warned Sheriff Smith that it was illegal to invite Christian private citizens in Barrow County to attend the event, while at the same time denying Muslim private citizens the right to attend,” Mitchell said in a news release. “A backdoor Muslim Ban is just as unconstitutional as a blatant Muslim Ban.”
Mitchell said he plans to reach out to the county’s attorney and ask for an apology, and a promise to never again exclude people from a public training or event because of their religion.
“If we don’t get that promise we would have no choice but to take it to court,” Mitchell said. “To me this is a slam dunk case.”
In other news:
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.