Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement training to be considered for Long Beach Police Department.

The city of Long Beach Police Department has requested funding in order to be considered for ABLE, a program aimed at supporting whistleblowers.

By: Jessica Bustos

Long Beach Police Department March 2019. Photo courtesy of: Google Maps

LONG BEACH - The Long Beach Public Safety Committee advanced the Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement to be considered for funding as a part of the city’s “Framework of Reconciliation” plan to end systemic racism.

The teleconference meeting on Thursday consisted of presentations from the Long Beach police and fire department regarding whistleblower protections, training requirements, potential funding and updates on new programs.

According to their website, the ABLE project created by Georgetown Law was made to “prepare officers to successfully intervene to prevent harm and to create a law enforcement culture that supports peer intervention.”

Assistant Police Chief Wally Hebsein said that currently the Long Beach Police Department’s whistleblower protection policies fall within the city's human resources guidelines based on the California Labor Laws.

These laws forbid employers from “making, adopting or enforcing any rule, regulation or policy that prevents an employee from being a whistleblower,” he said.

He also said that these policies have worked within the department, he has seen officers come forward and the department has shown their support by taking action.

“[However] I don’t want it to sound like it happens all the time, because it doesn’t,” he said of officers that report misconduct within the LBPD.

Councilwoman Suzie A. Price, chair of the public safety committee said she recognized that there are policies in place to protect whistleblowers however, she also acknowledged the concerns of the public in the recent protests regarding police misconduct.

“No classification of employee [is] ever permitted to cause an environment where there’s bullying, hazing or even a cold shoulder, but we see it happen all the time,” she said., an organization dedicated to providing transparency within police departments, reported that there were 602 civilian complaints of Long Beach police misconduct between 2016-2018.

“What's important here is that we continue to re-evaluate the procedures and the systems that we have in place to make some of these policies and protections meaningful,” Price said.

Currently, Long Beach Police Department employees receive unlawful harassment training through the city that is required every two years and goes over whistleblower protections, said Hebsein.

This has been the policy for 25 years or more, he said.

The ABLE program would grant new recruits 8 hours in addition to their basic academy training and 2 hours of annual training for every officer.

Although the ABLE program is free there are requirements of the Police Department to be granted participation which would require full-time employment for administration of the program and other additional funding.

“There’s some definite benefits to us participating in this ABLE program,” said Councilman Al Austin.

“I do think this is a budget impact item… but I do think it merits consideration of our budget.”

In Irving, Texas the police department has been accepted into the program and will begin training over the next several weeks.

However, Twitter user @itsDtruth disagrees with the decision.

“An 8 hour training and pin doesn’t change a culture of racism,” he said via Twitter.

Others, like @cat_portfolio tweeted that the program is “a fantastic innovation in policing.”