NOTTINGHAM, MD—The Baltimore County Police Department has been accepted into the Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) Project, Georgetown University Law Center’s national training and support initiative for U.S. law enforcement agencies committed to building a culture of peer intervention that prevents harm.
By demonstrating agency commitment to transformational reform with support from local community groups and elected leaders, Baltimore County Police join a select group of more than 60 other law enforcement agencies and statewide and regional training academies chosen to participate in the ABLE Project’s national rollout. To date, hundreds of agencies across the country have expressed interest in participating.
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 officer mistakes, and promote health and wellness.
ABLE gives officers the tools they need to overcome the innate and powerful inhibitors all individuals face when called upon to intervene in actions taken by their peers.
According to Chief Melissa Hyatt, active bystandership training for police officers is an essential component of building and maintaining trust between police departments and the communities they serve.
“As the dedicated men and women of the Baltimore County Police Department continue serving our communities with the utmost professionalism, we remain committed to a path of progress and evolution. That pledge for continuous improvement includes adopting strategies designed to reduce harm” said Chief Melissa Hyatt. “This initiative provides our officers valuable tools and training and helps us achieve this goal. I am honored that the ABLE Project has selected the Baltimore County Police Department to be a part of this meaningful, nationally-recognized initiative.”
Professor Christy Lopez, co-director of Georgetown Law’s Innovative Policing Program, which runs ABLE, explained: “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.”
Chair of the ABLE Project Board of Advisors, Sheppard Mullin partner Jonathan Aronie, added: “Intervening in another’s action is harder than it looks after the fact, but it’s a skill we all can learn. And, frankly, it’s a skill we all need – police and non-police. ABLE teaches that skill.”
The ABLE 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.
Every participating law enforcement agency must adhere to a list of ABLE Standards.
The ABLE Project Train-The-Trainer event began November 30, 2020. By the end of December, Baltimore County Police instructors will be certified as ABLE trainers; and over the coming months, all of the Department’s officers will receive eight hours of evidence-based active bystandership education designed not only to prevent harm, but to change the culture of policing.