(SEATTLE, WA, 7/7/2008) – The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA) today welcomed an internal memorandum from Seattle’s police chief cautioning against the use of religious or ethnic profiling in training programs.
In his memo to department captains, Chief of Police R. Gil Kerlikowske wrote:
“The purpose of this message is to provide guidance to commands regarding assigning personnel to training courses. Recently there was some concerns expressed by community members regarding a training course. The Seattle Police Department has a commitment to unbiased policing and building trust with the community we serve. It is critical that training designed to detect illegal or possible illegal behavior serve a legitimate law enforcement function. Associating behavior with religious, racial, or ethnic affiliation will mislead law enforcement and cause us to spend time on what might not be a genuine threat. It is therefore, imperative that we carefully review the appropriateness of these courses prior to approving such training for our officers.”
Chief Kerlikowske’s memo comes after CAIR-WA called on Port of Seattle Police to ensure that a recent two-day training course, titled “The Threat of Islamic Jihadists to the World,” offered a balanced perspective on Islam and Muslims. Local Muslims leaders had expressed concerns that the course would promote stereotypes and religious and ethnic profiling.
SEE: Does Course on Islam Give Law Enforcers Wrong Idea? (Seattle Times)
“We thank Chief Kerlikowske for taking this positive step to ensure that police training is not based on religious or ethnic stereotypes,” said CAIR-WA President Arsalan Bukhari.
Bukhari said an incident in which apparently innocent travelers in the state were profiled for their “Middle Eastern” appearance points to the need for training that deals with issues of profiling and bias.
SEE: FBI Says Men in Ferry Photo were Innocent Sightseers
He added that Muslims nationwide are concerned about the information law enforcement authorities are receiving on the subject of Islam.
CAIR’s chapter in Pennsylvania (CAIR-PA) recently called on police training officials in that state to offer a Muslim perspective in a mandatory police training class because of concerns that the class would present stereotypical views of Islam and Muslims.
SEE: Penn. Muslims Seek ‘Balance’ in Police Training on Islam
In May, a spokesman for CAIR’s Chicago office said an emergency preparedness drill in Illinois, in which a fake “mosque” was stormed by law enforcement authorities, sent the “wrong message” that all Islamic houses of worship may be potential security threats. An official later apologized for using the “mosque” in the drill.
SEE: IL Official Apologizes for Using Fake ‘Mosque’ in Drill
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR-WA President Arsalan Bukhari, 206-931-3655, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org