LSO taking part in training program to prevent officer misconduct & harm

LSO File Photo
LSO File Photo(Ryan Swanigan (KOLN))
Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 11:22 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office announced they’ve been accepted into a national law enforcement project that trains officers on how to intervene when a fellow officer may be responding improperly during an incident.

Deputies will be taking part in the Active Bystander for Law Enforcement Project, created by Georgetown University Law Center. LSO is joining more than 180 other law enforcement agencies from across the country and in Canada.

The ABLE Project gives practical active bystandership strategies and tactics to law enforcement officers to prevent misconduct, reduce mistakes, and promote health and wellness.

LSO said the program will give deputies the tools they need to overcome any reservations people experience when they’re called upon to intervene in actions taken by another law enforcement officer.

Sheriff Wagner said a good example of how elements of the ABLE Project would be used is in regards to excessive force and the George Floyd case, specifically why the other officers didn’t intervene.

“When Chief Deputy Ben Houchin presented the concept to me and the command staff, after learning about the program at a leadership training session, we agreed the ABLE Project would provide strategies for our deputies that would help reduce mistakes, prevent misconduct and promote officer wellness,” said Sheriff Wagner.

Sheriff Wagner said the concept is interesting and will give deputies permission to actively engage if something’s not quite right.

Currently, LSO does not have an intervention policy in place, however Sheriff Wagner said the department is looking at policies crafted by the Crime Commission and will have a policy in place by the first of the year.

Over the last month, LSO instructors were certified as ABLE trainers and over the coming months, all of LSO’s deputies will receive eight hours of evidence-based active bystandership education designed, not only to prevent harm, but to change the culture of policing.

Those backing LSO’s application to join the program included the Asian Community and Cultural Center, The Lighthouse and the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners, who wrote letters of support.

“The Lancaster County Board is fully supportive of the Sheriff’s Office participating in this program and believe that this will help the department continue to work towards fulfilling its mission of ‘Providing exceptional law enforcement services that reduce crime, enhance public safety, and build public trust,’” wrote Rick Vest, Lancaster County Board Chairperson.

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