Bexar County Sheriff's Deputies are undergoing a unique course today called 'Ethical Policing is Courageous' and it is designed to not only save the careers of law officers, but to prevent the sorts of ethical lapses which have led to lawsuits, street protests, and a diminished view of law enforcement in some communities, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
'EPIC' was created by the New Orleans Police Department after several officers watched as a suspect mouthed off to an officer, and the officer finally punched the suspect in the face.
The officers who punched the suspect lost his job and the case resulted in controversy, a lawsuit, and public relations headaches for the police on the job.
Other officers said if they had stepped up and stopped the officer before the situation escalated to violence, not only could their fellow officer have saved his job and his livelihood, but it would have saved the department and the citizens a lot of grief.
They say this is not a course that encourages officers to 'snitch,' but it aims to give them the moral courage to participate as what is called an 'active bystander,' to defuse a problem.
EPIC training has five goals:
1. Help officers understand the career-saving benefits of intervention and the huge risks (including the growing legal risks) of non-intervention.
2. Help officers identify the signs that an intervention is necessary.
3. Teach officers how to intervene effectively and safely.
4. Teach officers how and why to respectfully accept intervention.
5. Protect officers who intervene and those who accept intervention.
The course involves 'role playing simulations' where officers determine when intervention is needed and how it can best be handled. EPIC compares it to the 'role playing simulations' which train officers when to fire their weapon and when to withhold fire, and de-escalate the situation using non lethal means.
Several other industries, including the medical industry, successfully have used peer intervention programs for decades to reduce medical errors.