CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) - Within the next few weeks, police in Concord will undergo training to teach them how they can intervene if they see a fellow officer doing something that is unlawful or against department policy.
The Georgetown Innovative Policing Program, partnering with global law firm Sheppard Mullin, created Project ABLE (Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement) to assist officers with intervening when confronted with certain situations.
The Concord Police Department is one of 25 departments in United States and Canada that will be undergoing ABLE training.
“This program, once fully implemented, is a benefit to the community because it enhances that trust that a community has to have in their local police department," said Concord Police Chief Gary Gacek. “I don’t care if you have one day on the job or 20 years on the job, if somebody is doing something wrong, I expect officers, regardless of their tenure, to intervene to prevent that misconduct or that potential misconduct.”
Gacek said the process to be accepted for the training was competitive. The department had to provide proof that it was part of an “effective, evidence-based community policing program,” and had strong community partnerships.
Both the local NAACP and the Black Political Caucus of Cabarrus County provided letters of support.
Chief Gacek says the training isn’t being undertaken because of incidents involving Concord officers, but is spurred by such events across the country.
“Given the situation that’s unfolded across the country over the last few months, I wanted to see whether or not there was some sort of training that would assist the department, assist officers in being as successful as they can be on the street," Gacek said. “You can use Minneapolis as an example. There were three officers around that incident, they were in a situation where they could have intervened, yet they did not.”
Gacek says the training will go beyond what policies departments may already have in place.
“Having a duty to intervene policy is not enough," Gacek added. "Those are words on paper, those are an expectation, but what the research has shown is that active bystandership can be taught.”
The department will be sending two officers to “train the trainers.” Those officers will conduct the training in the next few weeks. It involves eight hours initially, then two hours annually.
Chief Gacek believes the pro-active approach with this kind of training will be a benefit to the community as well as to the officers of the Concord Police Department.
“Who else is out there at 2:00 in the morning to police the police other than us?”