Gloucester Township Police Chief David Harkins Message- GTPD Joins National Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) Project:
“I am very proud to report that the Gloucester Township 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. The goal of the ABLE Project is for officers to look out for each other while performing the high stress duties of law enforcement.
By demonstrating a firm commitment to transformational reform with support from local community groups and elected leaders, Gloucester Township Police Department joins a select group of more than 215 other law enforcement agencies, along with statewide and regional training academies, from across North America.
Backed by prominent civil rights and law enforcement leaders, the evidence-based, field-tested ABLE Project was developed by Georgetown Law’s Center for Innovations in Community Safety 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.
By committing to the principles of the ABLE Project, we have provided our officers with additional tools to overcome the innate and powerful inhibitors all individuals face when called upon to intervene in actions taken by their peers. Attaining the ABLE certification was an important priority for us, as we continually work to improve our “Excellence in Policing” and officer wellness initiatives.
I am proud that we received strong support from Mayor David Mayer, Gloucester Township Council, the Dreams of Tomorrow Organization (www.thedotorganization.com), clergy members of Gloucester Township (Our Lady of Hope Parish, Gloucester Township Ministerium), and community leaders to achieve this certification from the ABLE Project.
Professor Christy Lopez, co-director of Georgetown Law’s Center for Innovations in Community Safety, 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 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.
See the complete list of the ABLE Project Board of Advisors, more information about the ABLE Project, and a list of the ABLE Standards to which every participating agency must adhere please visit their website here: https://www.law.georgetown.edu/cics/able/
Read these articles that share more information about active bystandership generally, and the ABLE Project in particular here: https://www.law.georgetown.edu/cics/in-the-news/
Gloucester Township Police Department currently has two instructors that are certified as ABLE trainers. Over the last six months, all of the Department’s officers received 8 hours of evidence-based active bystandership education designed not only to prevent harm, but to change the culture of policing. The training received by all of our officers was well received. The ABLE Project training bolstered our already robust practice of de-escalation use of force tactics, and our strong community policing philosophy.
For more information on the ABLE Project, review the program’s website at: www.law.georgetown.edu/ABLE
I want to thank the Georgetown University Law Center’s ABLE Project for providing us this meaningful training, and for assisting us to attain the ABLE Project certification. I also want to acknowledge the men and women of the Gloucester Township Police Department who continue to serve the community of Gloucester Township with great honor and distinction every day.
David J. Harkins
Chief of Police”