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Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement

Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE)

ABLE car decals

Few would argue that the role of a police officers in today’s world is straightforward. Even fewer would say that the situations they encounter each day offer simple solutions or resolution. The complexities, challenges and stresses involved with policing in a community are vast, and with that growing complexity, comes a demand from our communities that officers are equipped with the training and skills needed to protect residents without harm.

Across the country, our communities - and the law enforcement agencies that serve them - are recognizing the need to reflect on how we ensure that policing remains centered around safety and justice.

The Auburn Police Department is one of multiple agencies in the United States and Canada to participate in Georgetown Law’s Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) Project – a program designed to train officers to intervene to prevent their colleagues from causing harm or making costly mistakes. 

Launched in 2020, ABLE is based on the EPIC (Ethical Policing Is Courageous) Peer Intervention Program developed in 2014 by psychologist Dr. Ervin Staub, the New Orleans Police Department and others to focus on the psychology of peace and violence.

Through ABLE, instructors are able to use science-backed strategies from the EPIC program to deliver practical, scenario-based training for peer intervention and to further guide development of concrete measures that create and sustain a culture of peer intervention among officers.

In January of 2021, the Auburn Police Department marked a major milestone in the program with the completion of training for every officer on the force. Today, the pride in this work can be seen with the ABLE pin worn on every uniform and decal on every vehicle. 

Central to the ABLE program training is intervention – not only in the field during officer interactions, but off duty as peers. Along with training, one of the unique, and most important elements of the ABLE program is the emphasis on a wholistic look at department’s culture. 

To learn more about the ABLE program and the data behind the success of peer intervention programs, visit the  Georgetown Law website.