Agencies accepted to ABLE Prior to August 2022 committed to the below Standards. For ABLE’s current Standards, please see our Program Standards page. We encourage (but do not require) all ABLE agencies to commit to the revised Standards.
Law Enforcement Agency Standards
In Place Prior to August 2022
1. Community Support. The agency will submit FOUR letters in connection with its registration. Two letters must be from community-based organizations (e.g., local group advocating for changes in policing, NAACP chapter, faith organization, etc.) vouching for the sincerity of the agency’s interest in self-improvement in general and in ABLE in particular. Additionally, the agency will submit a third letter from the leader of the agency (chief, commissioner, sheriff, etc.) and a fourth letter from the leader of the jurisdiction in which the agency is based (mayor, city manager, county executive, governor, etc.).
2. Meaningful Training. Officers (including agency leaders) and recruits will receive at least 8 hours of initial dedicated ABLE training and at least 2 hours of annual refresher training. ABLE training will be taught to classes of 25 or fewer officers by two instructors. (Training materials and facilitator guides are provided by ABLE.) The ABLE program will be taught as designed. Unless expressly approved in writing by the Georgetown University Law Center for Innovations in Community Safety in advance, you may not change the content, the timing, or the organization of the curriculum. The training covers the relevant social science, the inhibitors to active bystandership, and the strategies and tactics of giving and receiving an intervention. The principles of active bystandership also will be incorporated into relevant Academy (recruit and in-service) courses, including, among others, Use of Force, Stop/Search/Arrest, Report Writing, Traffic Stops, and Vehicle Pursuits.
3. Dedicated Coordination. The implementation of active bystandership will be spearheaded by a designated program coordinator, who will roll out, promote, and reinforce the program. The coordinator will be available to provide guidance and assistance to officers as necessary. The coordinator, working with agency leadership, also will ensure that officers sent through the ABLE Train-the-Trainer (TTT) event are given uninterrupted time to attend the event and to complete “homework” assignments during the training week. This includes ensuring that TTT participants are NOT assigned to work shifts or take on projects during the week of TTT training that could interfere with the training (including evening shifts/responsibilities before or after ABLE training days). The program coordinator position does not need to be full-time, but should be someone who is respected as a natural leader in the agency.
4. Program Awareness. The agency will institute an active bystandership awareness program. The principles and benefits of peer intervention shall be promoted through regular internal and external communications, including clear messaging from the public safety executive. All officers who complete the active bystander training shall be presented with a visual representation, such as a pin, which they may choose to wear.
5. Accountability. The agency will have a strong written anti-retaliation policy to ensure interveners are not punished, targeted, or otherwise ostracized, and the agency will promptly and fully investigate all instances of apparent retaliation and hold officers accountable for retaliation. The agency’s misconduct policy will require the investigation of all apparent instances of a failure to intervene, whether discovered during the course of any use of force or other misconduct investigation, or otherwise. The agency’s discipline policy will recognize a successful intervention that prevents misconduct from escalating as a potential mitigating factor in any consequent discipline proceeding.
6. Officer Wellness. The agency will have a meaningful officer wellness program, including access to professional counselors and/or social workers available to provide guidance and support to officers in need.
7. Reporting. An active bystandership program is not intended to alter the agency’s reporting policies. In other words, an intervention does not change the reporting obligation of any officer. If an incident is reportable per agency policy, it remains so after the implementation of the active bystandership program. If an incident is not reportable, it does not become so after the implementation of the program. Intervention is a tool to prevent problems before they arise, or to keep problems from escalating after they arise. An active bystandership program reduces or eliminates unnecessary harmful behavior and, thus, reduces or eliminates the need for reporting. It is not a means of increasing or lessening an officer’s reporting obligations.
8. Measuring Officer Perceptions. The agency will conduct a pre-implementation and post-implementation perception survey among all personnel who will receive the ABLE training. The ABLE team will distribute the survey, and agencies must provide the names and email addresses of officers scheduled for training. The survey data, which is collected anonymously, will be shared with Georgetown University. Unless agreed otherwise with the jurisdiction, the data will be held in confidence by the ABLE Project, and will be shared publicly only through aggregate reporting without reference to any specific agency.
9. Follow-Through. The active bystandership program will be implemented department-wide, with the full and vocal support of agency leadership and command-level staff. Agency leadership shall ensure all officers assigned to take the ABLE Train-the-Trainer are given sufficient/dedicated time and space to take the training without interruption and are not assigned shifts/responsibilities that will interfere with the ABLE training (including shifts or responsibilities before or after ABLE training days). The agency will do its best to cooperate with reasonable requests from the ABLE Project to evaluate the meaningful implementation of the program by sharing policies, training curriculum, and internal communications; and providing access to leadership and officers for interviews.
10. Paying It Forward. Agencies employing ABLE-certified instructors will make reasonable efforts to make ABLE training (by those certified instructors) available to surrounding law enforcement agencies that have been accepted into the program. Such training will be provided at no charge (other than necessary travel expenses). This must be done in coordination with the ABLE team.
If your agency is willing to commit to these principles, you are welcome to: (a) apply to register 1-2 instructors in the next available ABLE Train-The-Trainer event, (b) announce that your agency is ABLE-trained following the completion of the internal training, (c) make appropriate use of the ABLE trademark in accordance with the guidelines available on the Georgetown website, (d) reference the ABLE name in your own training materials; (e) use the teaching materials Georgetown has made available through the ABLE website, and (f) contact the ABLE Project and any of its partner departments for advice and guidance as you set up your program.
NOTE: These ABLE Guidelines are modeled after those developed by the New Orleans Police Department through its EPIC Peer Intervention Program. “EPIC” and “Ethical Policing Is Courageous” are registered trademarks of the New Orleans Police Department. The ABLE Project thanks the New Orleans Police Department for its contributions in this area.