WICHITA, Kan.— The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office has decided not to be part of an anti-terrorism training session given by a former FBI agent who has been criticized by Muslim groups.
The sheriff's office announced in a statement Friday that the two-day session planned for next week by former agent John Guandolo had become too controversial. Guandolo, a former Marine who founded the organization Understanding the Threat, might still appear in Wichita, but the sheriff's department will not be a sponsor.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations on Wednesday had asked the sheriff's department to cancel the session, saying Guandolo is biased against Islam and his training programs persuade law enforcement members to be suspicious of all Muslims.
At first, the sheriff's office said the training would go on, but on Friday it said the controversy had overshadowed the reason for the training.
If Guandolo does give a session in Wichita, the sheriff's office will not send any officers, Sheriff Jeff Easter told The Wichita Eagle.
The sheriff said another instructor would provide the training in the future and the U.S. Attorney's Office has offered to present anti-terrorism training for the county.
Guandolo on Friday defended his sessions, saying that "there is no reasonable and factual counterargument" to the information he provides. Guandolo said anyone who is an adherent of Sharia, or Islamic law, is a threat to the country. He has said his training program is not about identifying all Muslims but rather identifying threats.
CAIR national spokesman Ibrahim Hooper called the sheriff's decision "really good news."
Hussam Madi, spokesman for the Islamic Society of Wichita, said law enforcement should learn about different cultures and investigative strategies "but not from someone who . brings hateful views" and treats Muslims as "guilty till proven innocent."
The training was expected to draw law enforcement officers from across the state at a cost of $150 per person.