Police departments across the nation have been under increased scrutiny in recent years, and many are endeavoring to provide officers with the additional training and tools they need to protect and serve their communities while fostering trust and goodwill with the people.

The Belton Police Department's latest effort to accomplish this is participation in a nationwide training initiative called the Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) Project.

ABLE, developed by Georgetown University Law’s Innovative Policing Program and approved by national civil rights and law enforcement agencies, is designed to provide officers with intervention strategies they can use if a fellow officer uses excessive force. Organizers say the project is evidence-based and has been field-tested, and every Belton PD officer will receive 8 hours of what they call "active bystandership education training."

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The training is intended to give officers the tools and the confidence to step in if they believe a fellow officer is acting inappropriately and hold that person accountable.

The training is provided free of charge, but departments are only considered if organizers receive local letters of support. When they requested the training, Belton PD received support from local chapters of the League of United Latin American Citizens and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“Intervening in another’s action is harder than it looks after the fact, but it’s a skill we all can learn,” Jonathan Aronie, Chair of the ABLE Project Board of Advisors, said. “And, frankly, it’s a skill we all need – police and non-police. ABLE teaches that skill.”

“We are pleased to receive this training and confident it will enhance the service we provide to the citizens of Belton,” Belton Police Chief Gene Ellis said.

I think most people would agree that it's great to see local police eager to receive additional training to better serve the public. We hold officers to high standards, but like us they're only human and should be provided with the tools they need to enforce the law while respecting the dignity and rights of those they interact with.

Kudos to Belton PD for participating in this program. They're one of a little over 70 law enforcement agencies in the nation taking part in the training. If it goes well, I wonder if they'll recommend it to other local departments.

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