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On 31 May 2020, at about 1 am, as civil unrest and looting overwhelmed the streets of Seattle following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a Seattle police officer did something his partner may not even have noticed at the time. He pulled his partner’s knee off the neck of an arrestee. The event, which was caught on video by a local journalist, took all of 5 seconds, but serves as a gripping illustration of “active bystander- ship” in action. In those 5 seconds, that officer possibly saved his partner’s career, prevented harm to a citizen, and, for all we know, forestalled the further escalation of already-devastating civil unrest.

T he Seattle event, of course, stands in stark contrast to the more than seven minutes three officers in Minneapolis remained mostly passive while a colleague pressed his knee against the neck of George Floyd leading to Mr. Floyd’s death, the termination of four officers, the arrest of one officer, the crim- inal charging of the other three, and untold millions of dollars of damage to cities across the United States. Most of us watch these two videos — and many others — and come away shaking our heads. The absence of the interven- tion in Minneapolis looks appalling. The successful intervention in Seattle looks easy. But the truth is intervening is not as simple as it looks in hindsight. Nor, frankly, is it all that common. While we all can watch the George Floyd video and be certain that we would have intervened courageously and forcefully if we were those younger officers on that scene, decades of research and on-the-ground experience tell us that humans simply are not particularly good at intervening in a peer’s (let alone a supe- rior’s) conduct. We all think we are regular “active bystanders” because (i) we remember the times we did intervene and (ii) do not so quickly recall the many times we didn’t. (It’s a nifty little trick the brain plays on us, which psychologists call “ethical amnesia.”)

There are many reasons humans do not regularly intervene in the conduct of others, and there exist decades of research identifying a long list of “inhibitors” to intervention. The inhibi- tors range from the readily understandable (“I am afraid”; “I don’t know what to do”) to the sadly nefarious (“I don’t care about the person being harmed”; “I don’t care about the person doing the harming”). Psychologists have demonstrated with- out question that these inhibitors are real, and that they are universal, extremely powerful, and most definitely not unique to policing. Psychologist also have demonstrated that the inhibi- tors to intervention can be overcome through deliberate training and practice. The tactics and strategies of intervening in another officer’s conduct, however, never have been taught in police academies in a deliberate manner. Beyond the occasional reminders that it’s everyone’s duty to be courageous and intervene to prevent harm to others, few academies in the United States have dedicated meaningful time to teaching or practicing the skills necessary to make an intervention successful. And fewer still have dedicated the time and effort it takes to create a department-wide culture in which such skills can be deployed safely and effectively. Decades of experience, however, demonstrate that mere remind-

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