New intervention training for Portland cops

I’m heartened by PPB’s new “Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement” (ABLE) training program — and by OregonLive’s mention of the similar “Ethical Policing is Courageous” (EPIC) training at New Orleans Police Department.

This welcome news comes from the Portland Police Bureau, via OregonLive. Here’s the story, verbatim, with kudos to the OregonLive and The Oregonian for another fine piece of reporting.

As usual, comments from The Tumalo Lookout follow below the reprinted news story.


Portland police to receive new training on how to intervene when a colleague acts unlawfully or against policy

Updated 4:04 PM; Today 4:00 PM

Chuck Lovell
In the wake of the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, the lack of intervention by other officers who were present was stark and disturbing, Portland police Chief Chuck Lovell said. Sean Meagher/Staff

By The Oregonian/OregonLive.com

The Portland Police Bureau plans to add anti-racism training for officers this winter and new “active bystander” training that will encourage officers to speak up and intervene if they see another officer acting inappropriately, violating policy or using excessive force.

Portland Chief Chuck Lovell briefly spoke about the training during a media availability held by video Wednesday afternoon.

The so-called ABLE training, which stands for Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement Training, will teach officers how to intervene if they spot another officer doing something that’s unlawful or violates bureau policy.

In the wake of the videotaped May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, the lack of intervention by other officers who were present was stark and disturbing, Lovell said.

“The duty to intervene is something we have in our policy, but we don’t really teach people how to do that,” Lovell said.

Portland police training instructors will first receive the training from an outside agency and then present it to Portland officers. The training will last eight hours, with two hours of follow-up instruction, according to the bureau.

Georgetown Law Professor Christy Lopez, who co-directs Georgetown Law’s Innovative Policing Program, launched a national project to train law enforcement on how to intervene to prevent police misconduct.

“What we know is that people do not always intervene when they should, and they may spend the rest of their lives regretting it,” Lopez said. “If you want police to intervene, you have to teach them how and you have to create a culture that supports intervention.”

New Orleans Police have developed similar training called EPIC, for Ethical Policing is Courageous. The training, according to its website, focuses on recognizing what keeps people from intervening and remaining passive bystanders, such as fear of retaliation.

The Portland Police Bureau’s equity manager also plans to roll out new anti-racism training to officers this winter, the chief said. Special training also will be provided to lieutenants and commanding officers to help them manage projects through “an equity lens,” Lovell said.

The chief’s remarks come a day after his deputy chief issued a statement about the staffing challenges the Portland Police Bureau is facing as the city marks the 105th consecutive night of demonstrations against police violence and systemic racism.

The Police Bureau has about 310 officers on patrol, divided between the three precincts. They have been depleted by protest coverage – having to pull patrol officers to staff demonstrations that started in May after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, according to Deputy Chief Chris Davis. The Police Bureau also has logged 49 retirements and nine other resignations since July 1, Davis said in a video released on Tuesday. Another 102 new officers aren’t able to work the streets alone as they don’t have full training. The bureau hasn’t been able to send as many recruits to the state’s basic police academy as usual due to the coronavirus pandemic.

— Maxine Bernstein

Email at mbernstein@oregonian.com; 503-221-8212


From The Tumalo Lookout

As I said at the top, I’m heartened by PPB’s new Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) training program — and by the similar Ethical Policing is Courageous (EPIC) training at New Orleans Police Department.

I know nothing about either of these training programs, but I intend to educate myself and share more information here at The Tumalo Lookout. For the moment, I’ll just remind readers that the real-life difficulties and risks of cops taking a stand against misconduct by their colleagues have, historically, been exceedingly difficult to overcome. And they still are.

George Floyd, murdered by complicity of cops. (selfie by Floyd)

I view the silence of cops about police misconduct as collective indifference and complicity. And I hold all cops collectively accountable, in the court of public opinion, for the misconduct of the “few bad apples.” This problem has existed in American law enforcement for 400 years, and it’s still with us today. I’m not willing to cut the profession of law enforcement any more time.

Consider the four former Minneapolis PD cops involved in the murder of George Floyd. Their colleague, Derek Chauvin, did the killing, while they stood by and watched. Their lack of response to public outcries can only be described as studied indifference — and complicity.

Floyd’s murderer, Derek Chauvin (I won’t say alleged, because we all watched the killing) and Chauvin’s three accomplices.
Daniel Prude, killed by calloused indifference.
(Prude family photo)

Or consider the suffocation death of Daniel Prude in Rochester, NY: seven officers have finally been suspended for the suffocation of Prude in March of 2020. Prude’s death was treated as a drug overdose by law enforcement, and his family was not even notified of his death for five months. In fact, they only learned of his suffocation at all because they obtained police body camera video through an open records request.

It’s reasonable to suspect that the real cause of Prude’s death might never have been disclosed by law enforcement, but for the family’s uploading of the body cam videos to social media. This appears to have forced the hands of the Rochester police and other institutions. Silence is complicity. And this case appears to have exposed not only the complicity of at least seven cops, but institutional complicity as well:

In a news conference on Thursday afternoon, Mayor Lovely Warren apologized to the Prude family, saying that Mr. Prude had been failed “by our police department, our mental health care system, our society. And he was failed by me.”

The New York Times, Published Sept. 3, 2020 Updated Sept. 8, 2020

The silence of cops about misconduct in their ranks is among the worst attributes of cop culture. Arguably it’s the single most important, and difficult, problem to be overcome if law enforcement is ever going to end police brutality and racism.

Perhaps training programs like EPIC and ABLE will help overcome this inertia among cops. I congratulate PPB for implementing the training, I welcome the Bureau’s willingness to try a new direction.

Maybe our new Chief of the Bend Police Department, Mike Krantz, will see opportunity for our local cops. Chief Krantz is from the Portland Police Bureau. I’ll be publishing a bit of information about Krantz here at The Tumalo Lookout soon.

And, I’ll be asking Sheriff Shane Nelson about EPIC or ABLE training for Deschutes County’s deputies, as well. Perhaps Nelson and Krantz can jointly procure such a training program for all of central Oregon’s local cops.

I confess to be less heartened by PPB’s new anti-racism training. I’m never against training programs that attempt to help overcome racism, but I’m not particularly optimistic about the odds of the program having a lot of impact. Racists aren’t often changed by training programs, and I see little reason to think that racists among cops will be any different.

Hopefully I’ll be wrong about that. If PPB gathers good data to compare before and after the training program reaches all of its officers, then perhaps time will tell.


Several cops watch as a colleague puts a “spit sack” over Daniel Prude’s head. Shortly afterward, the cops watched as Prude asphyxiated and suffocated.

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