Representatives from various city governments and police departments were in New Orleans recently to get training in a new program offered by the NOPD.
The visitors came to the city to learn about the EPIC program. NOPD launched EPIC – Ethical Policing is Courageous – in January 2016 with a goal of empowering officers on the streets to intervene if they see a colleague doing something wrong or unethical. NOPD leaders, supervisors and many rank-and-file officers have already received EPIC training and the department is in the process of training all current officers and new recruits. A total of 30 people participated in the most recent class, which was held at the NOPD Training Academy.
Representatives from Arlington (TX), Memphis (TN) Police Department, San Francisco (CA) Police Department, the Newark (NJ) Consent Decree Monitoring Team, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection traveled to New Orleans to participate in the day-long class and to learn about other reforms at NOPD.
The science behind EPIC is based upon years of social science research into “active bystandership.” The concept originated in studies of the Holocaust and other human rights atrocities that featured “passive bystanders” – people who stood back and didn’t say anything about the atrocities they were witnessing. An “active bystander” is one who intervenes to protect others rather than standing by and watching wrongdoing occur.
Former U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite called EPIC “a groundbreaking tool for repairing broken community trust” in an Op-Ed published by the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Polite also wrote that “EPIC is more than a training module; it is a philosophy that will manifest itself throughout the NOPD's operations and interactions.”
On May 18, 2017, three NOPD officers who completed the training participated in an EPIC pinning ceremony in Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle’s courtroom. The proceedings also included a public Consent Decree hearing on EPIC in Federal Court in front of Judge Susie Morgan, presentations on the program by NOPD officers, community members, Consent Decree Monitors, and representative of the U.S. Department of Justice.