Dallas Council to Vote on Police ‘Bystandership’ Program

Dallas Council to Vote on Police ‘Bystandership’ Program

During its meeting on Wednesday, Dallas city council members unanimously approved a program that would help teach Dallas police officers how to better police themselves.



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The Active Bystandership in Law Enforcement program, called ABLE, will be run through the University of North Texas at Dallas’ Caruth Police Institute. It trains officers how and when to intervene during potentially troublesome interactions with the public.

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“We know now more than ever police are working hard to recognize that first responders must do a better job in intervening when necessary to prevent their colleagues from causing harm,” said BJ Wagner, Executive Director of the Caruth Police Institute.

There was plenty of discussion during Wednesday’s meeting between council members, police and the assistant city manager, with many showing support for the program and voicing their plea to change systemic issues within police culture.

“There’s a lot of folks wanting to know what’s going on with DPD right now and I think just the more transparency we can provide the community, the better,” said councilman Chad West of district 1.

According to the agreement, training will start in February and run until 2024 at a capped cost of $300,000 paid for by the city’s general fund. City council said this is not new money being spent because the city budget approved in October will be amended to include that cost.

“This is a very exciting program. it represents a significant step toward our implementation of real change,” said Jon Fortune, assistant city manager for the city of Dallas. “If we’re able to achieve this within the timeframe established, we’ll be the first city in Texas to implement this program. It’s an important part of our overall strategy to change the culture in the police department.”

The ABLE program will teach officers in the Dallas Police Department how to intervene successfully to prevent police misconduct, to prevent mistakes from officers, and to prevent harm to another officer when it is believed that they are struggling with their own healthcare, regardless of rank, according to Wagner.

“And if we can teach our officers to recognize when misconduct or a mistake is happening, and intervene successfully, and then protect the officer who intervened, then we can drastically reduce misconduct mistakes and harm across the communities,” Wagner said.

Wagner noted that the structure of a police force is one that requires “critical loyalty to one another.” But a problem that can arise in that kind of environment, Wagner said, is that a junior officer may be less likely to tell a senior officer that they believe what they are observing is not right.

Wagner indicated that other, similar lines of work, including the airline industry and medical professionals who work in surgical settings, have also benefited from training like the ABLE program.

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Published at Wed, 13 Jan 2021 09:54:46 +0000

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