The New Orleans Police Department's chief of detectives, Paul Noel, has received a national award for creating programs to teach officers to intervene when colleagues are breaking—or are about to break—the law and agency rules, officials announced Thursday.
Noel helped design, implement and teach the Ethical Policing Is Courageous, or EPIC, program at the Police Department amid federally mandated reforms that the agency has been adopting since 2012.
Using training videos, role-playing scenarios and other tools, the program's overarching goal for the past few years has been to teach trainees how to speak with and stop colleagues or supervisors who are on the brink of breaking policies or laws, ideally before the violations occur. Noel and the Police Department then worked with Georgetown University to create an essentially identical program that police agencies nationally and internationally have opted to learn, a curriculum called Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement, or ABLE. The police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day 2020, which sparked street protests across the United States and prompted the push for ABLE.
Police forces in Arlington, Texas; Memphis, Tennessee; Newark, New Jersey; and San Francisco are among those in the U.S. who were early outside students of the EPIC program that set the stage for ABLE, officials have said.
The laurel that Noel received is the Gary Hayes Award from the Police Executive Research Forum, a national institute that works to train officers for senior management positions, the New Orleans Police Department said. The forum gives the award annually to a mid-career police force leader "who demonstrates imagination, creativity, resourcefulness and initiative in the design or implementation of new approaches to policing," the Police Department said.
Noel is in his 25th year at the Police Department. He started as a patrol officer but by 2015 had become the chief of field operations under then Superintendent Michael Harrison. When Harrison left to become the police commissioner of Baltimore, he was succeeded by Shaun Ferguson, who last year put Noel in charge of criminal investigations.
"Paul ... has played a major role in implementing successful law enforcement reforms at NOPD, and this award is a well-deserved recognition of his tireless efforts," Ferguson said.
Noel thanked his colleagues and said the Police Department showed officers can fight crime "morally and ethically while continuing to build community relationships."
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