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Concord Police undergoing ABLE training to learn intervention techniques when officers are doing something wrong

Updated: Nov. 9, 2020 at 1:07 PM EST
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CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) - Special training is going on now for officers in the Concord Police Department to teach intervention techniques in the event that they see a fellow officer doing something illegal or against department policy.

Chief Gary Gacek says the training isn’t being undertaken because of incidents involving Concord officers, but is spurred by such events across the country.

“We’re able to correct anybody at any time, depends on the situation, and if it’s something where you have to correct a supervisor or someone higher ranking, you can do so, just be tactful about it," said Paul Rodriguez with Concord Police.

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.

“As a police officer you expect to be trained in the physical aspects of the job," said Master Police Officer Lindsie Youngo. "You can expect to be trained about case law and knowledge and understanding the law and there’s not much training going around about mental health.

“Maybe an officer is not seeing a clear picture from their point of view, but you might from your point of view. That doesn’t mean that that officer I bad, but you intervene from your point of view it can alter and change the end result," said Lt. Denan Sabanija.

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 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.

The department’s own officers who have undergone a special training course, are now conducting the training. It involves eight hours initially, then two hours annually.

“It’s not a tool for discipline, it’s actually a tool to prevent discipline and to keep officers on the correct path," said instructor Sgt. Eugene Ramos.

“This is an important topic right now because of everything that is going on in our nation," added instructor Julia Soares. She says the reception among officers has been good, and that the training is important because it goes beyond just a written policy. “We’ve had a duty to intervene policy in place, but I believe you need more than a policy, you need training, and that’s what this training does.”

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.

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