The Wilkes University Police Department has been accepted into the Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) Project, Georgetown University Law Center’s national training and support initiative for U.S. law enforcement agencies committed to building a culture of peer intervention that prevents harm.
By demonstrating agency commitment to transformational reform with support from campus and community groups, the Wilkes University Police Department joins a select group of more than 60 other law enforcement agencies and statewide and regional training academies chosen to participate in the ABLE Project’s national rollout. To date, hundreds of agencies across the country have expressed interest in participating.
Wilkes University Police Corporal Kevin Walkowiak is the first of the University’s officers to complete the 20-hour training. Walkowiak participated in the virtual course during the week of Nov. 30. The “train-the-trainer” format allows Walkowiak to share the evidence-based active bystandership education with Wilkes officers.
Backed by prominent civil rights and law enforcement leaders, the evidence-based, field-tested ABLE Project was developed by Georgetown Law’s Innovative Policing Program in collaboration with global law firm Sheppard Mullin LLP to provide practical active bystandership strategies and tactics to law enforcement officers to prevent misconduct, reduce officer mistakes and promote health and wellness.
ABLE gives officers the tools they need to overcome the innate and powerful inhibitors all individuals face when called upon to intervene in actions taken by their peers.
Wilkes University Police Chief Christopher Jagoe said seeking inclusion to join the ABLE Project reflected important priorities for the University.
“We are honored to participate in this program which will allow us to further our commitment of providing exceptional police services through policy, procedure and training to the Wilkes community and our local law enforcement partners,” said Jagoe.
“Now more than ever, it is important that our first responders employ a variety of strategies to intervene and prevent crime. We are proud to partner with Georgetown and the ABLE Project to offer this valuable and timely training which can be shared with the entire Wilkes University Police Department,” said Wilkes President Greg Cant.
Professor Christy Lopez, co-director of Georgetown Law’s Innovative Policing Program, which runs ABLE, explained, “The ABLE Project seeks to ensure every police officer in the United States has the opportunity to receive meaningful, effective active bystandership training and to help agencies transform their approach to policing by building a culture that supports and sustains successful peer intervention to prevent harm.”
Chair of the ABLE Project Board of Advisors, Sheppard Mullin partner Jonathan Aronie, added, “Intervening in another’s action is harder than it looks after the fact, but it’s a skill we all can learn. And, frankly, it’s a skill we all need – police and non-police. ABLE teaches that skill.”
The ABLE Project is guided by a Board of Advisors comprised of civil rights, social justice and law enforcement leaders, including Vanita Gupta, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department; Commissioner Danielle Outlaw of the Philadelphia Police Department; Ervin Staub, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the founder of the Psychology of Peace and Justice Program; and an impressive collection of other police leaders, rank and file officers and social justice leaders.
- See the complete list of the ABLE Project Board of Advisors.
- See a list of the ABLE Standards to which every participating agency must adhere.
- These articles share more information about active bystandership generally, and the ABLE Project in particular.