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The Point Park University Police Department Joins National ABLE Project

Active Bystandarship for Law Enforcement Project LogoThe Point Park University Police Department has been accepted into the Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) Project, Georgetown University Law Center’s national training and support initiative for U.S. law enforcement agencies committed to building a culture of peer intervention that prevents harm.

By demonstrating a firm commitment to transformational reform with support from local community groups and elected leaders, the Point Park University Police Department joins a select group of more than 70 other law enforcement agencies and statewide and regional training academies from across the country.

Backed by prominent civil rights and law enforcement leaders, the evidence-based, field-tested ABLE Project was developed by Georgetown Law’s Innovative Policing Program in collaboration with global law firm Sheppard Mullin LLP to provide practical active bystandership strategies and tactics to law enforcement officers to prevent misconduct, reduce mistakes, and promote health and wellness. 

ABLE gives officers the tools they need to overcome the innate and powerful inhibitors all individuals face when called upon to intervene in actions taken by their peers.

The Point Park University Police Department said seeking inclusion to join the ABLE Project reflected important priorities for the department.

“The Point Park University Police Department is recognized as an innovative and proactive agency in our region, and we seek to employ sound police practices and policies in everything we do,” said Chief of Police Jeffrey Besong. ABLE “gives officers the tools they need to overcome the powerful inhibitors to intervene in one another’s actions.” 

Additionally, Point Park’s involvement in the ABLE Project will affect policing practices on and around campus. “We have had policies in place for years that require officers to intervene when necessary, and I believe ABLE will better equip our officers to do just that – taking decisive action when necessary to protect our community and our officers,” Besong said. “Our goal is to teach our police officers to do a better job intervening when necessary to prevent their colleagues from causing harm or making costly mistakes.”

Although policing initiatives remain a controversial topic, efforts made to improve policing have not gone unnoticed by the public, including Point Park students like first-year screenwriting major Dawson White.

“I’m glad to see Point Park police doing the program proactively. It shows a willingness to truly learn and understand unlike other departments that just do these kinds of programs after an issue has already occurred,” White said. 

White is glad that the university’s police department has elected to join the ABLE Project and promotes improving intervention training before tragedy strikes on campus. 

Chief Besong expressed pride in the department’s reputation over the last decade. “Since we started the police department in 2011, we have not had any incidents regarding police officer misconduct, use of force complaints or any bias policing complaints,” Besong said. “I am very proud of our department and how our officers perform their duties under very difficult situations. This is why we constantly train our officers on how to do their job in a professional manner.”

University President Don Green shared this sentiment, praising Besong’s work with and leadership of the department. “Under Jeff’s leadership, our police department has been proactive in its efforts to become a model for University police departments across the state,” Green said. “We were among the first police departments in Pennsylvania to equip our officers with body-worn cameras. Our offices have a responsibility to serve all citizens of our community, and I support any effort to continue improving our established culture of professional conduct, education, and accountability.”

The effects of the ABLE Project have already begun to be felt at Point Park, as both “Chief Besong and Nicholas Black, Deputy Police Chief, are now certified ABLE instructors and will be able to train all officers in their department.”