Dallas Police have joined with the Caruth Police Institute at the University of North Texas at Dallas to provide ABLE training to every officer.
Select officers are being trained as trainers to provide the instruction to others.
It is a change from tradition where officers were instructed to respect and not question seniority.
B.J. Wagner leads the Caruth Institute. She is an expert in this new approach that she said provides benefits to police and the community.
“Reducing mistakes, eliminating misconduct and insuring our officers are healthy,” Wagner said.
Denton Police officers are also receiving ABLE training.
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“We can’t survive alone. We have to have a collaborative relationship with the communities that we serve across the country and this is one big piece of helping that,” Denton Police Chief Frank Dixon said.
So far, 800 Dallas officers have received the training and all 3,100 Dallas officers will receive it.
“We need our officers to engage, but at the same time, we need to be more professional about how we do this and better our profession,” Dallas Chief Eddie Garcia said.
UNT President Bob Mong said Chief Garcia has been working with him on a plan to bring all Dallas Police training to the university campus.
“He wants officers in training to be taught by academics, not just other police officers,” Mong said.
UNT Dallas recently completed $150 million in new buildings with more on the way and much more vacant land available.
Mong said a site east of the DART Rail station at the end of the campus has been identified as the likely site for a new Dallas Police Academy.
“Obviously if you've seen our police academy, our officers and our recruits need that,” Chief Garcia said.
The existing Dallas Police Academy is in rented buildings near the Dallas Executive Airport that were intended to be a temporary location many years ago.
The space is cramped and social distancing from the COVID 19 pandemic made it even more difficult to train large numbers of new officers there.
Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata became an ABLE trainer himself to help support the program.
Mata said joining with UNT Dallas for all police training could help attract new candidates.
“Home growing our own department, in other words, we have so many individuals in the city of Dallas that would make amazing police officers,” he said.
A new police academy is still years away.
In the meantime, police hope the new training will help boost community relationships in Dallas neighborhoods.