Letter: Arizona Police Association’s Training Featuring John Guandolo

Click here for a PDF of this letter. 

May 15, 2017

DELIVERED Via fedex and E-mail

Bill Montgomery, County Attorney
Maricopa County Attorney’s Office
301 W. Jefferson Street, Suite 800
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Interim Police Chief Michael Dvorak
City of Mesa
P.O. Box 1466
Mesa, AZ 8521
[email protected]

Re:       Arizona Police Association’s Training Featuring John Guandolo

Dear Mr. Montgomery and Chief Dvorak,

Muslim Advocates is a civil rights organization dedicated to protecting the rights of all Americans to live and worship free from discrimination.  As you know, the Arizona Police Association intends to hold an event for law enforcement officers on May 16-18, 2017 that features a training led by John Guandolo titled “Understanding and Investigating the Jihadi Threat.”  According to news reports, the seminar is funded by a grant from Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and is being hosted at Mesa Police Department’s training facility.[1]

We write to express our deep concerns with your departments’ support of this highly problematic training.  Mr. Guandolo has a well-documented history of conducting inflammatory trainings that perpetuate offensive racial and religious stereotypes about Islam and Muslims.  Numerous law enforcement organizations and community leaders have discredited and repudiated Mr. Guandolo’s trainings after learning more about the gross inaccuracies and biases driving his work, and we urge your departments to do the same.  At a minimum, no local or state departments should be providing support or funding for a training that is so blatantly offensive and dangerous.  By copy of this letter, we also share our concerns with the Chiefs of Maricopa County’s police departments, so that they may inform their officers about the gross inaccuracies in Mr. Guandolo’s trainings.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has described Mr. Guandolo as “a notorious Muslim-basher and conspiracy theorist who resigned from the FBI before he could be investigated for misconduct.”[2]  His presentations are well-known for trafficking animus and bigotry towards the Muslim community.  To provide just a few examples, Mr. Guandolo has claimed that mosques are “front organizations for the Muslim Brotherhood with no right to exist;”[3] that American Muslims “do not have a First Amendment right to do anything;”[4] and that “it is a permanent command in Islam for Muslims to hate and despise Jews and Christians and not take them as friends.”[5]  Such anti-Muslim rhetoric demeans an entire religious group while also encouraging law enforcement to profile and target a particular community based solely on inaccurate and animus-based stereotypes.

In fact, one of the key elements of Mr. Guandolo’s work is the emphasis and promotion of targeting Muslim individuals, associations, and institutions without just cause.  He is closely affiliated with ACT! for America, the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in the country,[6] and helped build “The Thin Blue Line Project,” referred to as a “one-stop internet resource for information concerning the perceived threat of Muslim infiltration and terrorism in the country.”  One of its main components is a “Radicalization Map Locator,” which lists the addresses of hundreds of Muslim Student Association members, mosques, and Islamic institutions around the country.  Given that Mr. Guandolo believes that the purpose of such Muslim groups and organizations is to “recruit jihadis,”[7] his biased and grossly inaccurate trainings encourage law enforcement to discriminatorily target a specific group based solely on religion.

Law enforcement agencies in Kansas and Virginia have canceled or declined to sponsor training sessions with Mr. Guandolo after learning more about the inflammatory substance of his trainings, and the Deputy Police Chief in Columbus, Ohio found Mr. Guandolo’s training to be so offensive that he suspended it after the first day.[8]  This comes as no surprise:  Mr. Guandolo’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and teachings disparage the faith of millions of Americans and promote biased policing that discriminatorily targets individuals and communities based on religion and ethnicity, not on evidence of actual wrongdoing.  Mr. Guandolo’s training materials also foster fear and suspicion of American Muslims among law enforcement and the general public.

Such distrust directly correlates to a rise in discrimination, bullying, harassment, and anti-Muslim violence.  In a time of dramatic increase in religious-based hate crimes across the country, we strongly urge your departments to rescind their support for Mr. Guandolo’s upcoming presentation and educate your members about the dangerous inaccuracies presented in Mr. Guandolo’s work.  Arizona law enforcement officers deserve better training, and Arizona Muslims deserve better treatment.

Please do not hesitate to let us know if we can provide any further information regarding our concerns.


Juvaria Khan

Staff Attorney

Cc:       Levi Bolton, Executive Director, Arizona Police Association

Jeri Williams, Police Chief, Phoenix Police Department

Alan G. Rodbell, Police Chief, Scottsdale Police Department

Rick St. John, Police Chief, Glendale Police Department

Sylvia M. Moir, Police Chief, Tempe Police Department

Randy Brice, Interim Police Chief, Gilbert Police Department

Sean Duggan, Police Chief, Chandler Police Department

Roy W. Minter, Police Chief, Peoria Police Department

Terry Young, Police Chief, Surprise Police Department

[1] Garrett Mitchell, Law-enforcement training on jihadi threat spurs criticism, The Arizona Republic, May 11, 2017, available at

[2] Josh Glasstetter, Virginia County Sheriff Hosting Anti-Muslim Training by Disgraced Conspiracy Theorist John Guandolo, Southern Poverty Law Center, Feb. 13, 2014, available at

[3] Bob Smietana and Tony Gonzalez, Sheriff hires mosque foe to lead terrorism training, The Tennessean, Feb. 15, 2012, available at

[4] Josh Glasstetter, supra note 2.

[5] John Guandolo, “Understanding Shari’ah’s Role in the War,” Wired (blog), May 10, 2012, available at

[6] Christopher Mathias, Anti-Muslim Hate Group Brags About Influence in Trump’s White House, Huffington Post, Dec. 14, 2016, available at

[7] Id.

[8] Dina Temple-Raston, Terrorism Training Casts Pall Over Muslim Employee, NPR News, July 18, 2011, available at