KPD joins ABLE Project aimed at improving accountability

The ABLE Project is aimed at improving personal and professional accountability among law enforcement.
The ABLE Project is aimed at improving personal and professional accountability among law enforcement.
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 11:24 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2022 at 11:18 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Knoxville Police Department was officially asked to join the ABLE Project Tuesday, according to Communications Manager Scott Erland. It is the first agency in the state to do so.

The ABLE Project is aimed at improving accountability, both personally and professionally, among law enforcement officers. The project is an offshoot of another police reform program, the Ethical Policing is Courageous (EPIC) Peer Intervention Program, which was developed in part by the New Orleans Police Department, the department Knoxville’s Chief of Police Paul Noel came to Knoxville from.

“I am thrilled that our agency has officially been accepted into the ABLE Project,” 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.”

According to the program’s website, ABLE provides training, technical assistance and research aimed at changing the culture of policing. ABLE representatives hope that the program will create a culture where officers intervene when needed to prevent misconduct and avoid mistakes when policing. The move comes less than a month after two KPD officers were arrested on driving under the influence charges and another was fired for violating the department’s honesty code of conduct.

To be selected for the project, KPD had to submit four letters of support from Mayor Indya Kincannon, Noel, and two independent community groups in order to vouch for the department’s sincere interest in self-improvement. Knoxville Area Urban League and Knoxville NAACP wrote letters on behalf of the department.

Jonathan Aronie, co-founder and chair of the ABLE Project’s Board of Advisors, spoke on the move, supporting KPD’s actions.

“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,” Aronie said. “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 program will begin in 2023 with training sessions for selected KPD officers, who will then teach what they have learned to their fellow responders. Additionally, all officers and recruits will be required to receive an initial eight-hour ABLE training as well as two hours of training annually.

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