Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office offering free women’s self-defense course

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 7:24 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2021 at 7:25 PM CDT
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WEST MONROE, La. (KNOE) - The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office is holding its self-defense course for women this month. They were not able to have the sessions last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The course helps women with situational awareness to avoid becoming a victim of a violent attack and learn physical techniques to protect themselves.

The sheriff’s office hosts a free class for up to 30 women at the OPSO range in West Monroe.

During four sessions, women are shown ways to escape an attacker. Attendees take what they learn and practice moves like how to get away if someone grabs their wrist or if someone is choking them.

Corporal Michelle Jerkins says the main reason they teach the class is to increase civilian training and give women more confidence if they are approached.

“One of the main things that we cover that a lot of people don’t think about when they see a person coming at them in the parking lot. is most women will try to look away and not make contact try to not acknowledge them, but we teach you to acknowledge them. Give them full eye contact, and let them know that you see them because most criminals do not want to be identified. If you make that creepy eye contact with them, then they’re less likely to still victimize you because they feel like they can be identified,” Jerkins said.

They say keeping people from becoming victims is a priority whether it’s a stranger attacking or a domestic violence situation.

When walking to your car, they say to pay attention to the people around you. If you see someone doing something suspicious, keep your distance and call the sheriff’s office or local authorities. If something happens, they advise you to yell and draw attention to yourself.

Jerkins says everyone should carry a flashlight with them.

“A lot of people they want to carry the mace and if a guy’s coming up behind them in a parking lot, they want to immediately mace someone. It may not be a suspect or criminal activity, it may be how you left your debit card, and now you’ve accidentally battered someone else. So we recommend a flashlight. You can identify the person, and it makes a scene. If it is dark at night, you have now taken away their night vision, and it’s not illegal to shine a flashlight on somebody but it does create a distraction. Maybe that person again is less likely to victimize you if you have brought attention to them,” Jerkins said.

She says a lot of the women make friends in class and are able to practice and keep up with the physical techniques they’ve learned.

The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office will have another women’s self-defense course this fall.

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