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More Than 800 Dallas Police Officers Have Received Peer-Intervention Training From UNT-Dallas

1 Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia - CPI ABLE Media Day-00186.jpg
Courtesy of University of North Texas at Dallas
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"It is really my desire, that through the implementation of this [ABLE] program that the Dallas Police Department will become a model for agencies, police agencies across the United States," Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said.

More than 800 Dallas police officers have completed a new training that aims to teach them how to best intervene if they see potential misconduct committed by another officer.

Leaders from the Caruth Police Institute (CPI) at the University of North Texas at Dallas and the Dallas Police Department provided an update on Thursday about the Active Bystandership in Law Enforcement training, or ABLE.

“The ABLE peer-intervention program is coming at a critical time in our society," Dallas police chief Eddie Garcia said at a briefing. "It builds upon the existing training that DPD is already doing, and it can only make us better prepared to serve our community.”

ABLE is an eight-hour peer-intervention police training program that teaches officers strategies on when to speak up or act while on duty. Such training follows recent deadly cases such as last year's murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

Garcia said by executing the program, the city's police department will be a model for other agencies.

The training is a three-year initiative that was approved in January by the City of Dallas. In March, CPI selected the trainers that would teach DPD officers, and training began in April. It is costing the city about $300,000.

Officers who undergo the training will be expected to participate in two hours of annual refresher training every year.

"[The training] provide services to our community in a safe and effective and efficient manner, reducing mistakes, eliminating misconduct, and ensuring our officers are healthy," said B.J. Wagner, the Executive Director of CPI.

Wagner said the program speaks to Dallas' commitment to public safety.

Community and police relations have been tenuous in the city of Dallas since last year’s summer protests against police brutality that resulted in civilians being hurt with tear gas and rubber bullets.

"What [ABLE training] does, it gives our police officers another tool for them to use to help bridge the gap between the community and police," said Frank Dixon, Denton Police Chief and an Ambassador for the Caruth Police Institute at the University of North Texas at Dallas.

He led the training of Dallas Police Detective Raquel Oliver, who said one of the ABLE training's benefits is that it empowers young DPD officers to speak up.

"Building a different culture with the ABLE class senior officers are more receptive of the instruction, or leadership of the younger officers," Oliver said.

DPD's participation in the ABLE program is part of the implemented of the One Dallas: R.E.A.L. Change plan, which is a guide of "solutions and outcomes that are anchored in responsible, equitable, accountable, and legitimate efforts to restore and increase trust within our community."

Over 3,000 police officers are expected to be trained in ABLE by early next year.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member and writes about the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

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