INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– The Indiana University Police Department now requires full-time officers on every campus to receive active bystander training to prevent misconduct and mistakes. They’re the first university in the state to require the training for its law enforcement agency.
“As officers, we aren’t the ones normally asking for help,” said Hannah Skibba, Public Information Officer for IU Public Safety.
A new program, called ‘ABLE’, is encouraging officers to look out for one another to improve well-being and prevent misconduct.
“ABLE stands for Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement,” Skibba said. “It is a peer-intervention program that teaches officers to step up to prevent harm to self and others.”
The program teaches signs to look for in situations where intervention might be needed with both community members and fellow officers.
“We know across the country, our communities are asking for higher levels of accountability and better trained officers,” Skibba said. “In our commitment to ethical policing, this is a way IU said this is a way we can step up because we hear the concern and we’re ready to be the trailblazer when it comes to new training.”
“I think it’s a great start,” Patrol Officer Todd Hill said. “I’m glad we implemented this.”
Hill has completed the training. “We did small group and large group exercises, and reflected a lot,” Hill said.
Hill says the training creates a culture where officers feel safe to say when they’re not okay.
“Making sure they’re okay personally and professionally, that’s going to make a better officer,” Hill said.
Officials hope this will lead to fewer mistakes.
“We’re making sure we’re in the right mindset before we hit the streets so we’re not making those mistakes when we’re out there,” said Detective Lieutenant Kimberly Minor said.
Minor says this is a new concept for law enforcement. “In our field, it’s not easy to say I need some help,” Minor said. “When you know you’ve been training, your officers have been trained and your administration supports you, it’s easy to take that time out which makes a better officer.”
Along with IU Police, only three other agencies in Indiana currently offer able training: IMPD, Jeffersonville Police and the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office. Law enforcement agencies must qualify to join the ‘ABLE’ program. If approved, the training and implementation is provided at no cost.