KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knoxville Police Department has officially been selected to join a national law enforcement intervention training program, becoming the first agency in the state to do so.

The department was officially selected to join the Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) Project as a partner agency on Tuesday, a national training and research hub aimed at preventing police misconduct and improving community relations through officer intervention.

“By teaching officers practical and evidence-based intervention strategies and tactics, ABLE educates and empowers officers to intervene in another officer’s conduct to prevent misconduct, reduce mistakes, and promote officer health and wellness,” said Jonathan Aronie, co-founder and chair of the ABLE Project’s Board of Advisors . I’m thrilled (but not surprised) that Chief Noel so quickly brought this transformational program to the KPD. ABLE is a win/win for community members and officers.” 

The ABLE Project grew out of the Ethical Policing Is Courageous (EPIC) Peer Intervention Program developed by the New Orleans Police Department, where new KPD Chief Paul Noel helped design and teach both programs. He was awarded the 2021 Gary Hayes Award from the Police Executive Research Forum for his efforts.

“I am thrilled that our agency has officially been accepted into the ABLE Project,” Chief of Police Paul Noel said. “As I said before, ABLE will help our department create a culture that not only values personal and departmental accountability and employee wellness, but views those things as essential to our operations. Our department only stands to benefit from implementing this training and putting it into practice.”

To be selected, the department had to submit letters of recommendation from two independent community groups. The Knoxville Area Urban League and the Knoxville chapter of the NAACP both wrote in support of their efforts to join the program.

“We saw this as being a means to giving the leadership of KPD the tools necessary to train officers so that they can adequately serve or protect all communities so that no communities or individuals feel marginalized or profiled,” said Rev. Sam Brown, president of NAACP Knoxville Branch.

The department must now select participants to attend a four-day Train-the-Trainer session to receive ABLE instructor certificates as well as the relevant training material. Only then will they be certified to teach the ABLE curriculum.

The ABLE training will be implemented into the KPD’s 2023 training schedule. ABLE Standards require that all officers and recruits receive the initial eight-hour ABLE training as well as two hours of training on an annual basis.  

KPD will join over 270 law enforcement agencies across the U.S. and Canada who have committed to the ABLE standards.