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Lethbridge Police Service only Canadian agency selected for ABLE Project


October 9, 2020
By Staff

Lethbridge Police Service (LPS) has been accepted into the Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) Project. According to the service, this training and support initiative from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. is designed for law enforcement agencies committed to building a culture of peer intervention that prevents harm.

LPS joins a select group of 30 other law enforcement agencies and training academies chosen to participate in the ABLE Project’s rollout. To date, hundreds of agencies across U.S. have expressed interest in participating, with LPS being the first and only Canadian law enforcement agency participating.

ABLE gives officers “the tools they need to overcome the innate and powerful inhibitors individuals face when called upon to intervene in actions taken by their peers,” LPS states in a news release.

LPS Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh says joining the ABLE Project reflects important priorities for the Lethbridge Police Service.

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“The Lethbridge Police Service is committed to strengthening trust and building relationships to enhance professionalism internally and within the community,” Mehdizadeh says. “In light of current world events, we understand the need for reform and relevant training with respect to police culture. This will ensure we are providing our citizens with high-quality, accountable policing services.”

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. This is a 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.

“The ABLE Project seeks to ensure every police officer 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,” explains Professor Christy Lopez, co-director of Georgetown Law’s Innovative Policing Program, which runs ABLE.

Those backing the Lethbridge Police Service application to join the program included Mayor Spearman, the Interim Chief of Police Scott Woods, the Lethbridge College Dean of the Centre for Justice and Human Services, Jeanine Webber, and the Executive Director for the Downtown Lethbridge BRZ, Ted Stilson, who all wrote letters of support.

The ABLE Project Train-The-Trainer event begins later in October 2020. Over the coming weeks, Lethbridge Police instructors will be certified as ABLE trainers; and eventually, all officers and civilian staff will receive evidence-based active bystandership training designed not only to prevent harm, but to change the culture of policing.

For more information about the ABLE Project, visit the program’s website: https://www.law.georgetown.edu/innovative-policing-program/active-bystandership-for-law-enforcement/.