April 17, 2021

Community Invited to Virtual Conversation TODAY on Creating Stronger Police Culture Through the ABLE™ Project

LOL Partnership for Social Justice & FCCOL Sponsor Zoom Presentation by Nationally Recognized Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE)™ Program Developed by Civil Rights Activists & Law Enforcement at Georgetown Law Center

LYME/OLD LYME – On Sunday, Apr. 11, at 5 p.m., residents from across Connecticut are invited to participate in a conversation via Zoom on creating stronger police department cultures through the Georgetown Law Center’s nationally recognized Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) program.

The conversation, which will take place on Zoom, is being sponsored by the Lyme-Old Lyme Partnership for Social Justice and the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme (FCCOL).

All are welcome to register for this free program by sending an email to lolpartnership4sj@gmail.com. Zoom invitations will be sent out Saturday, April 10.

Building upon a training developed by Dr. Ervin Staub, the founding director of a program on the psychology of peace and violence at the University of Massachusetts, ABLE was developed by academics, civil rights activists and police officers working together to explore innovative  and evidence-based ways to reduce harmful behavior.

The ABLE program leverages social science and real-world experience to teach practical skills to intervene in another officer’s conduct in order to prevent misconduct (be it an unlawful search or a knee on a neck), reduce mistakes, and promote officer-health and -wellness. In doing so, ABLE seeks to instill a culture within police departments where it becomes the norm to intervene before harm takes place.

Other professions, including the medical profession, already have benefited from similar training, but it has never been applied to law enforcement – until now.  

In announcing the event, FCCOL Senior Minister Rev. Steve Jungkeit said, “As the murder of George Floyd once  again enters the news cycle, there is renewed interest in measures to prevent police violence. One quite promising model for reform can be found in ABLE.”

While the program has been operational in New Orleans since 2016 under a different name, ABLE was given a national stage by Georgetown University Law Center and the global law firm Sheppard Mullin LLP in late 2020. The first national ABLE training took place in September 2020, and in the months that followed, more than 100 agencies have committed to the program, including Boston, the New  York City Police Department and Old Lyme. 

Panelists expected to speak during the presentation include: 

  • Jonathan Aronie, Partner, Sheppard Mullin; Chair, ABLE Project Board of Advisors
  • Brett Parson, Lieutenant, DC Metropolitan Police Officer (retired); Lead Training Instructor,  ABLE Project 
  • Greg Guiton, Director of Strategic Partnerships, FBI National Academy; Captain, Ocean City  Police Department (retired) 
  • Greg Hanna, Captain, Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Police (retired) 
  • Deirdre Jones, Deputy Chief and LGBTQ Liaison, Cleveland Division of Police
  • John Thomas, Deputy Chief, Field Operations, New Orleans Police Department 
  • Matt Weber, Resident State Trooper, Old Lyme 

“The ABLE Project was created to ensure every police officer in the United States has the opportunity to receive meaningful, effective active bystandership training while helping law enforcement agencies transform their approach to policing,” said Professor Christy Lopez, co director of Georgetown Law’s Innovative Policing Program, which runs ABLE.

She added, “Having duty-to intervene policies on the books isn’t enough. Building a police culture that supports and  sustains the successful use of proven peer intervention strategies is key to preventing harm.” 

During the community conversation, residents will be able to learn about the origin of the  program, hear from civil rights activists, who shaped the program, and from police departments that have adopted it, and learn about ways to bring this important training to Connecticut communities.

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