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Police Department

Posted on: September 30, 2020

Irving Police Department Joins National ABLE Project

Irving Police Officer colors with a young boy on steps.

The Irving 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, the Irving Police Department joins a select group of 30 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 individuals face when called upon to intervene in actions taken by their peers.

Irving Police Department Chief of Police Jeff Spivey said seeking inclusion to join the ABLE Project reflected important priorities for the Irving Police Department.

“Policies mandating employees intervene when they witness misconduct are an important first step to protecting the rights of individuals,” said Chief Spivey. “Without direction and instruction on how intervention should be accomplished, the policies themselves do not provide the specificity necessary to empower our employees with the knowledge and confidence to courageously accomplish these directives.”

Those backing the Irving Police Department’s application to join the program included, Tony Grimes, President of the Irving/Carrollton chapter of the NAACP, Paresh Patel, Outreach Coordinator for BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha and the Hindu-American community, and City Manager Chris Hillman, all of whom wrote letters of support.

“This training is consistent with the Irving Police Department’s desire for creating a culture of continual improvement and will ensure they are prepared to respond appropriately if faced with a duty to intervene,” wrote NAACP President Tony Grimes.

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 nonpolice. 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 Council 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 at 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.

The ABLE Project Train-The-Trainer event begins later this month. Over the coming weeks, Irving Police Department instructors will be certified as ABLE trainers; and over the coming months, all our officers will receive 8 hours of evidence-based active bystandership training designed not only to prevent harm, but to change the culture of policing. We invite you to follow our progress in this critical area on its website at CityofIrving.org/Police, @IrvingPD on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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