Active Bystander for Law Enforcement, A Conversation with Dr. Joel Dvoskin

Ever wonder what it would be like to learn from Socrates, take a class from Albert Einstein or maybe sit down with Dr. Fauci to understand virology?  A dream right? 

Well for my co-author, Ramon Batista and I, we had such an experience when we Zoomed with Dr. Joel Dvoskin. Joel has the same influence as a Dr. Fauchi and like him he is very confident, yet humble. Joel is one of the creators of the New Orleans PD, Ethical Policing is Courageous (EPIC) http://epic.nola.gov/home/ EPIC is a peer intervention program developed by the NOPD, in collaboration with community partners, to promote a culture of high-quality and ethical policing. EPIC educates, empowers, and supports the officers on the streets to play a meaningful role in “policing” one another. EPIC produced results. 

The demonstrated success of EPIC and demand by law enforcement departments across the country for EPIC training resulted in Georgetown University picking up the concept and creating Active Bystander for Law Enforcement (ABLE) https://www.law.georgetown.edu/innovative-policing-program/active-bystandership-for-law-enforcement/. This program available to every law enforcement agency in the country. We should all embrace ABLE and encourage participation. With my background in labor relations, I can see ABLE having the same positive that the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services (FMCS),  “Partners in Change” had creating an opportunity to look at interests, not hardened positions.

Listening to the dialog with Ramon’s 30 plus years of policing leadership and Joel’s extensive understanding of psychology and the world of law enforcement was like being in a podcast of the giants. I wish this was available to all.

As Joel described the historic policing process, officers traditionally have two choices when they observe duty related misconduct: 1) report it, then face the repercussions; or 2) just deny that you saw anything, a challenge to personal ethical values. ABLE, changes the options to allow for a third option, a partner or buddy intervention. “ABLE provides an extra tool to change the odds.” It’s training on how to intervene to “save your buddy” from making a mistake that will impact his or her life. ABLE seeks to keep officers from making a tragic career ending mistake. As Ramon said, a critical incident impacts and officer forever, an unwarranted  death can be a stain on his soul that he carries for life. ABLE certainly is a once-in-a-generation cultural change tool that will save lives and careers.

What further excited me was when Joel described our DO NO HARM 5 Steps https://donoharmbook.org/ as “music to my ears”, that's certainly a compliment coming from a musician. During the Zoom, I noticed the Fender Bass in the background. It turns out Joel has jammed with a friend and played local gigs together! Joel commented, “I read the overview of the five steps, there was nothing new”, then I read the book and “it’s the process that makes the difference.” DO NO HARM produces long term cultural change, a culture of responsibility and accountability that starts with the leaders.

ABLE and DO NO HARM complement one another and creates a system approach. Both short term tools to change the odds for offices and create alignment from the chief to patrol or patrol to chiefs. A great coach once said I can’t wish a victory, I can only prepare you for success. We both work together, hand in hand to increase the probability of success.

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