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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: May 7, 2021 11:19 AM
From: Senator Wayne D. Fontana
To: All Senate members
Subject: Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement Training
The New Orleans Police Department, which has been under federal decree since 2012 for widespread misconduct following Hurricane Katrina, is now a national leader in what is known as peer intervention training.  This type of training instills the idea that officers have a duty to act as a check on their fellow officers' misconduct and possibly intervene in certain circumstances, such as using excessive force, planting evidence or lying in official reports.  They are legally obligated, the training teaches, to quickly stop an officer from committing an act of improper policing before it leads to such things as potential firings, criminal charges or even death.   


There are numerous different training programs available across the United States with many of the larger cities’ police departments either looking into peer training or participating in it.  In Pennsylvania, several law enforcement agencies are taking part in what is known as ABLE training (Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement) which includes: 


  • Philadelphia Police Department 
  • Allentown Police Department 
  • University of Pennsylvania Campus Police 
  • University of Pittsburgh Campus Police 
  • Wilkes University Campus Police 


The program is offered by Georgetown Law’s Innovation Policing Program, which partners with global law firm Sheppard Mullin.  More importantly, the training is offered to local law enforcement agencies at no cost to them.   


In the near future, I will be writing legislation to require all police departments to provide ABLE training on a biennial basis.  I believe that this training will better prepare officers to successfully intervene to prevent harm to not only the police but also society.   


Introduced as SB790