As part of police reform legislation passed in December, the Boston Police Department has adopted a training program that teaches officers how to effectively intervene with a superior officer in a moment of crisis, reports the Boston Globe. The program, Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE), enables officers to become active intervenors to stop a situation from getting dangerous and is expected to be offered as in-service training for the department’s more than 2,000 officers starting in July. A teachable skill that helps overcome common inhibitors — like rank or seniority— that can hamper police officers from interceding with a fellow officer when they know they should, ABLE lowers barriers to action by explaining the psychology of intervention, teaching practical techniques, and setting up scenarios that the officers can rehearse.
The goal of the training is not only to teach a technique, but to permeate a department’s culture. Meant for adoption by police nationwide, it includes more science, real-life stories, role-playing, and practical tactics. Since the program launched last fall, ABLE program coordinators have trained about 475 instructors from more than 100 departments in 30 states — lessons they hope will change the practices of more than 100,000 officers who serve some 50 million people. In Boston, ABLE-trained instructors at the academy taught the program to April’s class of nearly 100 recruits and it will soon be made part of required in-service training for veteran officers. In addition, New York City’s police department recently started using the program, and New Jersey will require the training for its 33,000 state and local police officers.