January 13, 2021
aerial view of unt dallas campus

The Caruth Police Institute (CPI) at The University of North Texas at Dallas (UNT Dallas) has been approved to bring the ABLE training program to the Dallas Police Department starting in February of this year. ABLE or Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement is a national training program that provides practical active bystandership strategies and tactics to law enforcement officers to help reduce mistakes. ABLE training is a peer intervention program that provides police officers with education, tools, encouragement and support to intervene on the public’s behalf in an effort to prevent their colleagues from committing acts of serious misconduct. The training also promotes self-care and health and wellness strategies so that law enforcement officers can reduce stress and focus on making positive connections in the community.  

Backed by prominent civil rights and law enforcement leaders, the evidence-based, field-tested ABLE Program was developed by Georgetown University Law Center’s Innovative Policing Program in collaboration with global law firm Sheppard Mullin LLP. With so many voices across the country calling for change in policing methods, this innovative training program provides the tools needed to guide law enforcement agencies on how to implement change and create pathways that lead to peaceful interactions between officers and the communities they serve.

By adopting the ABLE training module, the Dallas Police Department joins a select group of 70+ law enforcement agencies and statewide and regional training academies from across the country who have demonstrated a firm commitment to transformational law enforcement reform with support from local community groups and elected leaders. Support for the Dallas Police Department to adopt the ABLE training module includes the Texas State Conference of NAACP Units, LULAC Council #100 and CPI.

“We thank the City for its support of this innovative training,” said UNT Dallas President Bob Mong. “UNT Dallas could not be more pleased to play an active role in this effort.”

The ABLE training program will be administered by the Caruth Police Institute, a recognized ABLE Center of Excellence and the only approved ABLE training administrator in the State of Texas. CPI is known for its commitment to customized leadership courses and training and research for law enforcement and public safety agencies. Since 2008, the Dallas-based institute has trained members from 100+ agencies, including law enforcement, fire and rescue, city employees, county prosecutors and federal investigators. Their history of professional development seminars and law enforcement training includes more than 30 course offerings on topics ranging from implicit bias and emotional intelligence to leadership and wellness. This makes CPI uniquely positioned to administer the ABLE training program.  

“CPI is now proud to bring Active Bystandership education, training, and technical assistance to the

Dallas Police Department ensuring every recruit, officer, commander and civilian employee within the department has the opportunity to receive meaningful, effective and transformative active bystandership training,” said CPI Executive Director B.J. Wagner.

CPI not only plans to train members of the Dallas Police Department, they also plan to help strengthen community ties by seeking faith-based leaders, community members, UNT Dallas faculty, law enforcement leadership and others in academia to work together and serve on the Caruth Police Institute ABLE Advisory Committee and as ABLE Ambassadors. Input and community outreach from local leaders, combined with the expertise of criminal justice and law professors will strengthen the academic aspect of the training and promote a diversity of ideas.   

The Caruth Police Institute at the University of North Texas at Dallas will partner with the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute to launch Project ABLE Train-The-Trainer events by the end of February. Multiple instructors from the Dallas Police Department, other area police agencies and academic institutions will be certified as ABLE trainers for the Dallas Police Department. Within 12-18 months of the initial training date, all of the department’s officers and cadets will receive this evidence-based active bystandership education designed not only to prevent harm, prevent mistakes and promote wellness - but to change the culture of policing.

Program success for the Dallas Police Department will be defined by one year of comparison data in the following areas:

      • Officers trained by the 180-day benchmark
      • Officer attitudes and impressions as measured by the ABLE pre- and post- training survey tool
      • Use of force rates
      • Officer grievances
      • Officer wellness markers (attendance, sick leave, tardiness)
      • Community complaints

“As a leader in law enforcement education, training and research, CPI was a natural choice for ABLE Georgetown to select as Texas’ ABLE Center of Excellence,” Wagner added. “We look forward to providing guidance to police agencies and communities across the state that want to develop active bystandership programs and build the cultures that sustain them.”

The ABLE Project is guided by a national Board of Advisors comprised of civil rights, social justice, and law enforcement leaders, including Vanita Gupta, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Commissioner Michael Harrison of the Baltimore Police Department; Commissioner Danielle Outlaw of the Philadelphia Police Department; Dr. Ervin Staub, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the founder of the Psychology of Peace and Justice Program; and an impressive collection of other police leaders, rank and file officers, and social justice leaders. 

  • See the complete list of the ABLE Project Board of Advisors.
  • For more information about the ABLE Project, visit the program’s website.
  • See a list of the ABLE Standards to which every participating agency must adhere.
  • These articles share more information about active bystandership generally, and the ABLE Project in particular.


The Caruth Police Institute (CPI) was created by an innovative partnership between the Dallas Police Department and the University of North Texas at Dallas in 2008. CPI was funded with an initial grant of $9.5 million from the Communities Foundation of Texas, and initially focused on fulfilling the complex research, career advancement, and leadership development needs of the Dallas Police Department. This puts the Dallas Police Department in the unique position of being a national resource for innovative and evidence-based strategies in policing. Today, CPI serves law enforcement and public safety agencies throughout North Texas, offering customized leadership courses, seminars, training and research design. For more information, visit