DC Police adopt training program to enforce officer accountability – The Hilltop


Officers smile as they chat with a man. Photo courtesy of Jon Musselwhite

The DC Police Department has introduced a new program where officers learn when to intervene if their co-workers react negatively to a given situation and break boundaries and protocols.

The program, called Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE), is a national training initiative that was adopted this year by the DC Police Department.

The ABLE training program is led by Project Director Lisa Kurtz of Georgetown Law and developed by Dr Ervin Staub, President of the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence. The program includes approximately 179 ABLE certified agencies with 1,040 trained instructors in more than 38 US states.

ABLE representatives did not respond to Hilltop’s interview requests in time for publication. However, according to an article in WUSA9, during the training, “officers learn techniques to intervene with their fellow officers, subordinates or superiors”.

ABLE training aims to educate police officers to step in and intervene to avoid injury and misconduct in all situations where protocols are not followed and personal limits are exceeded.

According to a WTOP news article, ABLE was created to foster a “law enforcement culture that supports peer intervention”.

As stated on the ABLE website, the program “is based on evidence and decades of research, field and laboratory experiments, and field experience.”

In terms of the technique itself, ABLE specifies that “agents are trained on how to perform an intervention, receive an intervention and follow the intervention to avoid future damage”.

ABLE also ensures that law enforcement officers learn effective strategies to avoid bias in the police service towards communities affected by prejudice and ineffective policing.

ABLE lists a number of benefits of the program on its website, some of which include “reducing unnecessary harm to civilians, improving police-community relations, improving citizen satisfaction with law enforcement, and improving the health and well-being of officers ”.

In a statement to WTOP News, DC Police Chief Robert Contee said that “intervening is often more difficult than not. It is a skill that can be learned. “

He also mentioned in the statement that the George Floyd case and the misconduct observed in the Minneapolis Police Department have both made calls for significant police reform across the country, and that they are seen as some of the the most obvious examples of indispensable officer intervention. .

Subsequently, the DC Police Department commissioned an annual ABLE training for all officers.

The ABLE training program is modeled after the New Orleans Police Department’s Intervention Program, known as Ethical Policing is Courageous (EPIC).

As ABLE said, “The ABLE project builds on the previous work of EPIC and Dr Staub to develop and deliver practical scenario-based training to police departments on police intervention strategies and tactics. by peers ”.

In an officer’s testimony on the ABLE website, Lt. William D. Walsh of the New Jersey Police Department said that “officers are well trained and very comfortable taking control of stressful scenes during their shifts, however, we have traditionally failed our cops. by not teaching them how to help each other when they are in their own stressful situations.

Another officer, Captain Lafate Elliott Day Jr., of the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office, testified that “ABLE addresses concerns from the public and law enforcement. While being sensitive to public perception, this is a course that emphasizes officer safety and prevention.

The ABLE program includes a Research Advisory Board that conducts surveys and other research methods to analyze how ABLE can be most useful.

The statistical success rate of the program is currently unknown, as stated on the program’s website, “It is difficult to quantify the success of active assistance because in most cases when it is working it does not happen. nothing important. “

Copy edited by Jasper Smith


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