Official: Anti-Islamic police training class inappropriate

AP News
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Posted: Nov 11, 2015 5:35 PM

LAKEWOOD TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey officials say it was inappropriate for a county police academy to have a self-described former Muslim terrorist speak at a class called "Know Your Enemy."

The state will hand out new police training guidelines to New Jersey's 21 county prosecutors, Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for Acting Attorney General John Hoffman, told the Asbury Park Press (http://on.app.com/1Y4LbsV ) on Wednesday.

"The private training program that took place in Ocean County last week clearly was not appropriate training and is not the type of training we want our police officers attending," Aseltine said.

Walid Shoebat, a Palestinian-American, discussed his views on Islam during a counterterrorism seminar held Nov. 2 in Lakewood Township in eastern New Jersey. Shoebat told the officers they should actively watch Muslims in their communities and suggested they be suspicious of Muslims taking martial arts classes, which he said could be an indication that they're training to become terrorists.

Sheriff Michael Mastronardy and a deputy state attorney general sat in on the class after objections were made by the New Jersey Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The sheriff said he received hundreds of emails supporting and opposing Shoebat's appearance in the days leading up to the class, but he said he had no authority to cancel the event.

Mastronardy said the speaker was scheduled through a private police vendor that works with the academy but wasn't paid by the academy for the class. He said the only step he could take was to order that the class be moved off county property, which he did.

The vendor "COPS," is an acronym for "Courses Offering Police Specialization." It is owned by Jackson Township Police Detective Mitch Cowit. Cowit did not respond to a request for comment.

James R. Sues, executive director of CAIR, said the attorney general's response was what the group wanted.

"That is an excellent outcome, that is the kind of thing we were looking for, especially given that it was the lack of guidelines that resulted in the kind of training that happened last week," Sues told the newspaper.

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Information from: Asbury Park (N.J.) Press, http://www.app.com