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/ What if I get hurt? / What if they think I’m not a team player? / What if I piss him/her off? / No one else is doing anything. / It’s not my job.
Psychologists have studied these inhibitors for decades. They are powerful. They are commonplace. And, while some of us overcome them better than others, almost none of us is com- pletely immune from them. We also know from years of research, that inaction begets inaction. Witnesses to mistakes and misconduct consciously or subconsciously look around to assess the reactions of others. Where they see their peers — or worse, their superiors — not taking action, they naturally think no action needs to be taken. As one observer put it in the context of preventable sexual assault on college campuses, witnesses “may look around for cues to see if others define it as an emergency, and seeing none, do nothing.” TEACHING PEER INTERVENTION For years, police agencies — like other organizations, from hospitals to universities to the military — have dealt with these inhibitors to active bystandership by downplaying them, pre- tending they are not real, or deceiving themselves into thinking police officers are uniquely capable of overcoming them. At the same time, many “reform” programs too often treat officers as perpetrators, prompting a knee-jerk “I don’t do that so this doesn’t apply to me” reaction. As mistakes and misconduct in policing have not gone down dramatically over the past decade, it is clear that the traditional approach is not working. Human nature is what it is. Wishing it away won’t make it go away. Rather than trying to command people to put aside human nature, the NOPD took a different tack with its EPIC program. EPIC acknowledges the very real reasons people (including police) do not consistently intervene in a peer’s (let alone a su- perior’s) conduct, and arms its officers with practical strategies, tactics, and confidence to overcome them. NOPD’s EPIC training combines decades of social science research with commonplace law enforcement scenarios to give officers practical and effective tools to keep their colleagues and the public safe by preventing problems before they occur. THE SUCCESS OF EPIC While it’s hard to quantify the success of NOPD’s EPIC pro- gram— because, in most cases, an effective intervention means nothing happens — NOPD leaders, rank and file, and outside observers have seen its success with their own eyes. They also have seen the program embraced by all stakeholders, includ- ing the officers themselves, the City, and the public. NOPD also has seen significant national interest in its EPIC program. Over the last two years, EPIC has been featured in IACP’s Police Chief Magazine , PERF’s Subject to Debate , The Washington Post , The Times Picayune , and the New York Times . Clearly, word of EPIC is getting out. Last year, more than 75 professionals from across the U.S., including police chiefs, command staff, academy directors, and union officials, attended a two-day EPIC Executive Leadership Conference at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law. The conference, sponsored by the NOPD, the Fraternal Order of
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