Two years after the murder of George Floyd sparked nationwide calls for police reform, several police departments in the D.C. area are taking part in a program training officers to hold each other accountable for their actions.
Officers in Frederick, Maryland, recently signed up for the ABLE program, which stands for Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement.
The training runs officers through scenarios in which they only have moments to react, role-playing what to do if they see a fellow officer get too aggressive.
“In the case that you see something and you don’t intervene, you’re not remaining neutral — you’re a part of that problem,” said acting Lt. Tracey Wiles.
Wiles will be one of the instructors in charge of teaching officers how to step in when they see misconduct.
“It takes a lot of courage. It takes a lot of tact,” Wiles said. “We need to continue to build that trust and show the community that we’re there to keep them safe and hold each other accountable, hold each other to a standard.”
The ABLE program was started by Georgetown Law School after the murder of Floyd, when three officers stood by.
“Imagine how much safer all of us would have been, most importantly George Floyd, if one of those people had just grabbed Derek Chauvin and said, ‘Hey, take a beat,'" said Tahir Duckett, executive director of Georgetown Law’s Center for Innovations in Community Safety
Part of the ABLE training is a non-retaliation policy – making sure officers know they will not get in trouble for stepping in. So far, over 148,000 officers in about 240 agencies have signed up in 40 states.
D.C. police went through the training last fall. It came after one officer repeatedly punched a suspect and another was accused of chasing Karon Hylton Brown. Brown was killed when his scooter crashed into a car.
U.S. Capitol police also signed up for ABLE training, Georgetown Law said.
In Frederick, the police department says all officers will be required to take the class.
“As law enforcement, we are held to a higher standard. And to maintain that, we’re all gonna have to work together,” Wiles said.