By Caroline Vandergriff

DENTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The Dallas Police Department has adopted a new program to teach officers how to better police themselves.

The peer intervention training is meant to reduce mistakes and prevent misconduct.

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“It creates a culture where officers know that we’re all watching,” said Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia. “It’s not just supervisors, it’s not just the community, but it’s all officers who are watching.”

When Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, three officers stood by.

“How do you get that officer to take his knee off an arrestee’s back?” said Michael Williams, the Distinguished Leader-in-Residence at UNT Dallas, the only entity in the state offering the program. “And how do you do it even though that officer may have a higher rank than you do?”

Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement, or ABLE, aims to answer those questions and gives officers the tools to step in before a situation gets out of hand.

“Tempers may be rising and maybe there’s another officer that can say hey, let’s calm down a little bit and helps calms people down,” Chief Garcia said. “Those are the interactions that happen so much more often that this training truly is going to have an impact on.”

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DPD says it’s the first major-city police department in Texas to fully embrace the program.

Since April, more than 800 Dallas police officers have gone through the peer intervention program. The goal is to train everyone on the force by early next year.

“The Dallas Police Department is the only department in the country doing a rapid installation and full implementation of active bystandership within 12 months of onset,” said B.J. Wagner, executive director of the Caruth Police Institute at UNT Dallas.

Officers with the Denton and Irving police departments are also undergoing the training.

DPD hopes even more law enforcement agencies commit to bringing this program to their departments to empower officers to speak out.

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Caroline Vandergriff