Wilmington Police Department to undergo active bystander training

Updated: Aug. 18, 2020 at 2:34 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Since the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, there have been nationwide calls to reform police departments. And part of that means better training for officers that encounter dangerous situations.

The Wilmington Police Department will undergo ABLE training that could prevent instances like what happened in Minneapolis or Louisville from playing out here.

ABLE stands for Active Bystanders for Law Enforcement. Simply put, the program helps teach officers to speak up if they see one of their own doing wrong.

The ABLE project is an extension of the typical “duty to intervene” policies that are gaining popularity with police departments, including many throughout Southeastern North Carolina.

The program will train officers to identify misconduct from colleagues while on assignment or working in the field. It sounds like something that should already be done, but the creators of the program say they’ve found its not done well enough, which is why the training is so important.

“It helps our officers also, knowing that we are watching out for each other,” said Captain Kelvin Hargrove. “When we don’t watch out for each other and allow somebody to make mistakes, it can cause heartache among our officers too. We’re trying to prevent that also and make sure that everyone within this agency and our community are safe and treated fairly.”

Hargrove says ABLE will help WPD police better themselves and improve their actions and it will also help with community relations along the way.

Hargrove says at any job, employees might be nervous to speak about their coworkers or boss, but this project promotes accountability as a critical part of wearing the badge.

“Employees, such as officers, sometimes don’t intervene because they’re afraid of retaliation or they’re afraid of a fear of embarrassment or something may happen to them because the person that’s committing misconduct or mistakes are superior officers or superior employees or even supervisors,” said Hargove. “This teaches the junior officers to intervene with them.”

Hargrove says WPD hopes to start training the entire department in January 2021.

He says he hopes the ABLE Project will help them interact better with the community and cut down on controversial actions.

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