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Students sitting at a table for bystander course
April 05, 2022


Academics | Student Success

Several Criminal Justice students spent two Saturdays before the March break taking a short course titled: Law Enforcement Bystander Preparation, Ethics, and Wellness. Inspired by Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) a training program at Georgetown Law, this course focused on empowering students to be prepared to intervene before situations escalate—to protect both the public and their fellow officers.

The course grew out of discussions between Associate Lecturer Scott Allen, Professor Jennifer Balboni, Associate Lecturer Willie Bradley, and Senior Lecturer Mike Sampson (who is an ABLE trainer) about how to best prepare students before their police academy training to help usher in a new age of ethical policing during this period of reform in the field.

The course also highlighted understanding trauma and wellness as critical components of strengthening humanity in law enforcement. Sampson, Bradley, and Allen, all veteran police officers, have experience leading police forces in a variety of different communities (Massachusetts State Police, Boston Police, East Bridgewater Police). 

Students practiced the active bystander strategies in a variety of engaging role plays and scenarios, drawn both from college life and potential future law enforcement situations. Community policing and procedural justice approaches were emphasized and practiced, helping students build their skills in communicating and intervening in difficult, ethical, and consequential situations. The students who finished the course expressed feeling inspired to be a positive change in policing.