The ABLE Project

The Georgetown Innovative Policing Program, partnering with global law firm Sheppard Mullin, has created the Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) Project to prepare officers to successfully intervene to prevent harm and to create a law enforcement culture that supports peer intervention. The ABLE Project builds upon a training developed by Dr. Ervin Staub, the Founding Director of the UMass Amherst Psychology of Peace and Violence Program, to help police officers stop unnecessary harmful behavior by fellow officers. In 2014, Dr. Staub, other experts, and the New Orleans Police Department developed the successful Ethical Policing Is Courageous (EPIC) Peer Intervention Program in New Orleans. The ABLE Project builds upon EPIC and Dr. Staub’s prior work to develop and deliver practical, scenario-based training for police agencies in the strategies and tactics of police peer intervention. The ABLE Project will guide agencies and communities on the concrete measures that must be in place to create and sustain a culture of peer intervention. The ABLE Project also will provide a wide array of resources to communities and law enforcement agencies across the country interested in developing peer intervention programs of their own.

ABLE Project Leadership

The ABLE Project is led by Professor Christy Lopez, the co-director of the Georgetown Law Center’s Innovative Policing Program (IPP), and Sheppard Mullin Partner Jonathan Aronie. Mr. Aronie also chairs the ABLE Project’s Board of Advisors, which is comprised of law enforcement, civil rights, social justice, and academic experts from across the country, including Ms. Vanita Gupta, Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, Commissioner Michael Harrison, Mr. Roy Austin, and Dr. Tracie Keesee, among many others. The work of the ABLE Project is further guided by a soon-to-be-announced Corporate Advisory Group and Judicial Advisory Group, comprised of federal and state judges. A collection of pro bono lawyers from law firms and industry partners, led by Sheppard Mullin partner Dan Brown, provides additional pro bono support to the ABLE Project’s many activities. IPP Program Associate, Talhia Tuck, and ABLE Project Program Manager Consultant, Lisa Kurtz, manage the ABLE Project’s day-to-day affairs.

ABLE Project Instructional Design Team

ABLE training is evidence-based and founded upon decades of research, field and lab experiments, and on-the-ground experience. The ABLE Project Instructional Design Team brings together experts from a wide array of disciplines to ensure ABLE training incorporates the best and newest thinking about active bystandership, and continues to evolve as we learn more about what makes people active or passive bystanders. Among others, the ABLE Project Instructional Design Team includes Dr. Ervin Staub, Professor Emeritus, UMass Amherst; Dr. Joel Dvoskin, Professor, University of Arizona Medical School; Dr. Deidre Magee, Academic Director at the New Orleans Police Department Police Academy; Professor Christy Lopez, Georgetown Law Center Distinguished Visitor from Practice; Jonathan Aronie, ABLE Project Board of Advisors Chair and co-founder of the Sheppard Mullin Organization Integrity Group; Sheriff Sue Rahr, Director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission; Karen Collins Rice, Program  Design and Development, Rice Performance, Inc., and ABLE Project Program Manager Consultant, Lisa Kurtz.

The ABLE Project Logo

The ABLE Project logo was designed to reflect helpfulness, active bystandership, diversity, and inclusivity. The three images in the circle are meant to represent individuals: two law enforcement officers and a community member. The image is suggestive of one officer putting a hand on another officer’s shoulder as a reflection of active bystandership. That each individual has a hand on another shoulder is a reminder that active bystandership is tool that everyone — officers and community members — can use to prevent harmful behavior.

The color scheme also presents its own symbolism. The blue and green give a nod to law enforcement, while the gold is intended to reflect the importance of placing paramount value on every community member as an individual. The openness of the center of the image is meant to reflect a safe space for an intervention, a courageous conversation, the creation of allyship, and other helpful behavior. That the outer circle is gold — the same color as the community member symbol within the circle — is a reminder that, to have legitimacy, law enforcement must be fully responsive to the needs and demands of the community it serves.