APD implements new peer intervention training program

Press release from the Asheville Police Department: 

Asheville Police Department (APD) is kicking off a peer intervention training program that aims to teach officers how to stop a wrongful action by a fellow officer before it occurs. The program, known as Ethical Policing Is Courageous (EPIC), was developed in 2015 by New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) to promote a culture of policing that focuses on proactively preventing uses of force, rather than punishing officers when the damage is already done.

APD connected with EPIC training representatives after a consulting firm reviewed APD’s policies and procedures and recommended in August of 2018 that the department consider adopting a peer intervention program. EPIC is heavily based on the history and science of passive and active bystandership, defined as a situation where someone fails (passive) or succeeds (active) in intervening when the circumstances would seem to require action.

“EPIC empowers police officers to be agents of change in real reform,” NOPD EPIC Coordinator Terry Bean said. Officer Bean conducts EPIC training at police departments on a monthly basis in communities across the country.

Exemplary leaders of all ranks and divisions at APD were selected to take part in the two-day training led by Officer Bean and other representatives from NOPD last week. The EPIC training included role play and problem-based learning in an environment that promoted open dialogue. Trainees learned about and discussed the concepts of passive and active bystandership, inhibitors to peer intervention, and new approaches to active bystandership. The trainees will now take what they’ve learned to train the rest of the department and begin implementing the program before the end of the year.

“We plan to incorporate active bystandership into everything an officer does, and to provide officers with the tools and resources needed to do it well,” said Captain Joe Silberman of the Special Services Division. “Promoting an internal culture of moral courage will help ensure professionalism, fairness and consistency in officers’ interactions with the community.”

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