RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - The Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office is standing by a training session it has planned for local law enforcement being taught by John Guandolo. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Guandolo is an FBI agent who resigned in 2008 from the FBI after admitting to having affairs with female FBI agents and a source during a corruption case of former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.).
Since his resignation, Guandolo has started a company called Understanding the Threat. His company is based out of Virginia and has been accused of being anti-Muslim. The program being featured in Alexandria is called "Understanding and Investigating the Jihadi Movement."
The SPLC, which is based in Montgomery, Alabama, has especially taken issue with an upcoming training session being hosted by the Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office on March 7-9 at the Hotel Bentley.
In an email to News Channel 5, Cindy Kent, the senior communications strategist for the SPLC said, "John Guandolo has made a career out of demonizing Muslims and promoting absurd Islamophobic conspiracy theories since his resignation from the FBI in 2009. His trainings provide a skewed, harmful viewpoint for law enforcement."
Despite that, the DA's Office is standing by its decision to host the training. In a statement released to the press, District Attorney Phillip Terrell had this to say:
"We are surprised at the objections to this training seminar sponsored by the Rapides District Attorney’ Office. It is simply to educate our law enforcement community to the potential of terrorism faced by our nation. It is critical that we do everything in our power to protect our community from any threat whether it is drug dealing, violent crime or terrorism.
"This team has presented to law enforcement all over America, most recently in Louisiana. See the endorsement of the National Sheriff’s Association, written by its current president, Sheriff Greg Champagne of St. Charles Parish, Louisiana."
The DA's Office said the cost of the seminar is $12,500. About 180 law enforcement officers are registered to attend.
As Terrell said, "If this training saves one life, it is worth it."
The decision to host the training has created controversy on social media on the SPLC's Facebook page.
Joan Savage of New Orleans wrote on the page, "Small town Louisiana is not a hotbed of radical Muslim activity. This guy is making money from fear and ignorance."
But, David Hankins of Monroe wrote, "I don't believe any thing from Southern Poverty Law Center."
There is no word if Guandolo will actually attend the sessions himself.