STAFFORD – The Police Department has been accepted into the Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement project (ABLE), a training initiative meant to prevent misconduct, reduce mistakes, and promote health and wellness.
According to Georgetown Law, who helped craft the training, police officers are in high-stress situations every day where their decisions can impact the public. Having an officer be an “active bystander” means that they are trained to check a fellow officer and make sure they are making the right decisions.
“The ABLE program will provide training to all our officers in Active Bystandership and Peer Intervention,” Chief Thomas Dellane said. “The program will also improve the health and wellness of our officers, reduce unnecessary harm to civilians, improve police community relations, and will also improve citizen satisfaction of the police department.”
Ocean Mental Health Services, Manahawkin Baptist Church, and Stafford Business Administrator Matthew von der Hayden wrote letters of support for the department.
“Stafford Township Police Department has demonstrated a deep commitment to improving themselves as an agency and officers in a multitude of areas by forging new partnerships and services that allow them to better serve their community,” said Meghan Corrigan, LCSW from Ocean Mental Health Services.
She explained how the department launched the On POINT program to partner officers with social workers to assist community residents. They also formed the peer intervention committee to explore best practices of officer intervention, accountability and support.
“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 teaching that skill,” said Jonathan Aronie, a partner at Sheppard Mullin and chair of the ABLE Project Board of Advisors.
The ABLE Project is guided by leaders in law enforcement, civil rights, and social justice.
Four Stafford officers were certified as ABLE trainers. Over the next few months, all of the department’s officers will receive eight hours of evidence-based active bystandership education “designed not only to prevent harm, but also to change the culture of policing,” officials said.
The department is one of 115 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Canada to be part of this.