In light of the institutional failures of consent decrees in police departments across the country, the New Orleans Police Department’s Ethical Policing is Courageous (EPIC) program provides an alternative structure that begins with officers’ localized knowledge level and ends with systemic change. By allowing officers to police themselves, EPIC utilizes them and their experiences as resources to promote meaningful change.

In a new policy short, R Street Criminal Justice Research Associate SteVon Felton discusses how top-down approaches to criminal justice reform, while helpful and necessary in some instances, are ultimately less effective than internal shifts championed by departments.

The author argues that repairing issues of community trust requires police departments to address instances of misconduct and limited transparency. By training law enforcement to recognize elements of misconduct and encouraging officers to intervene, EPIC helps law enforcement better achieve their goals of officer and public safety.

More than simply chastising misconduct, EPIC works to redefine essential notions of loyalty, officer wellness and policing philosophy.

The author concludes by saying, “integrating active bystandership into officer training is essential to the resolution of issues of mental health and strained relationships between officers and communities of color. With EPIC, New Orleans has provided a model solution that the rest of the country would be well-advised to follow.”