Special to The Dallas Examiner
The Dallas Police Department has been accepted into the Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement Project. Known as the ABLE Project, it is a national training and support initiative for U.S. law enforcement agencies committed to building a culture of peer intervention that prevents harm.
DPD will partner with the University for North Texas at Dallas through the Caruth Police Institute to provide the training for all employees of the police department.
The DPD will join a select group of more than 70 other law enforcement agencies and statewide and regional training academies from across the country that have made a firm commitment to transformational reform with support from local community groups and elected leaders.
Backed by prominent civil rights and law enforcement leaders, the evidence-based, field-tested ABLE Project was developed by Georgetown Law’s Innovative Policing Program in collaboration with global law firm Sheppard Mullin LLP to provide practical active bystandership strategies and tactics to law enforcement officers to prevent misconduct, reduce mistakes and promote health and wellness.
“The ABLE Project seeks to ensure every police officer in the United States has the opportunity to receive meaningful, effective active bystandership training and to help agencies transform their approach to policing by building a culture that supports and sustains successful peer intervention to prevent harm,” explained Professor Christy Lopez, co-director of Georgetown Law’s Innovative Policing Program.
ABLE will provide the officers with the tools they need to overcome the instinctive and powerful inhibitors individuals face when called upon to intervene in actions taken by their peers.
“Intervening in another’s action is harder than it looks after the fact, but it’s a skill we all can learn,” said Sheppard Mullin partner Jonathan Aronie, chair of the ABLE Project Board of Advisors. And, frankly, it’s a skill we all need – police and non-police. ABLE teaches that skill.”
Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune said seeking inclusion to join the project reflected important priorities for the department.
“Participation in this innovative program will complement the actions that have been implemented from my One Dallas: R.E.A.L. Change plan. The city of Dallas is committed to policing that is Responsible, Equitable, Accountable, and Legitimate” Fortune said.
Those backing the DPD’s application to join the program included the Texas State Conference of NAACP Units, LULAC Council #100, and the Caruth Police Institute who wrote letters of support.
“ABLE will increase the Dallas Police Department’s incorporation of 21st Century Policing and serve to strengthen the bond between underserved communities and local law enforcement.” wrote Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas State Conference of NAACP Units.
In collaboration with the Caruth Police Institute, a recognized ABLE Center of Excellence, and the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, Project ABLE Train-The-Trainer events will begin by the end of February. Multiple instructors from the Dallas Police Department, other area police agencies and academic institutions will be certified as ABLE trainers. Over the coming months, all of the Department’s officers and recruits will receive this evidence-based active bystandership education designed not only to prevent harm, prevent mistakes and promote wellness – but to change the culture of policing.
Program success for the DPD will be defined by one year of comparison data in the following areas:
- Officers trained by the 180-day benchmark.
- Officer attitudes and impressions as measured by the ABLE pre- and post- training survey tool.
- Use of force rates.
- Officer grievances.
- Officer wellness markers – attendance, tardiness and sick leave.
- Community complaints.
“As a leader in law enforcement education, training and research, CPI was a natural choice for ABLE Georgetown to select as Texas’ ABLE Center of Excellence,” Wagner added. “We look forward to providing guidance to police agencies and communities across the state that want to develop active bystandership programs and build the cultures that sustain them.”
The project is guided by a board of advisors comprised of civil rights, social justice, and law enforcement leaders, including Vanita Gupta, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department; Commissioner Danielle Outlaw of the Philadelphia Police Department; Dr. Ervin Staub, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the founder of the Psychology of Peace and Justice Program; and an impressive collection of other police leaders, rank and file officers and social justice leaders.