Thursday, October 19, 2000

Women learn self-defense

Hamilton police teach techniques to city workers

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — A sharp mind is the best self-defense weapon a person can have — but a can of pork and beans isn't bad, either.

        That seemingly innocuous object in the bottom of a grocery bag becomes “a 16-ounce steel missile” with just a little force behind it, says Officer Brian ""Bucky” Buchanan, a Hamilton police training officer. “And if you've got a 12-pack of pop, you've got 12 reasons they need to stay back. ... Anything you see that you can get your hands on is a potential weapon.”

[photo] Hamilton Police Officer Brian Buchanan instructs Kim Kirsch of the city's utilities department on how to escape from a person grabbing at her arm.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
        Officer Buchanan is teaching groups of female city employees a self-defense course that focuses on more than just physical confrontation techniques.

        The eight-hour course, known as PROTECT — Personal Response Options and Tactically Effective Counter Techniques — helps women think differ ently about potentially dangerous situations, Officer Buchanan said. “Most women don't even like to think about self-defense,” he said. “In general, men are brought up thinking they are the protectors, and women are brought up thinking they are the protected.”

        A course for men may be offered later, Officer Buchanan said, and police plan to offer the popular course for women to businesses and community groups for a fee.

        For now it is being provided to female city em ployees at no charge. All they have to do is sign up.

        “I didn't realize we'd get such a response,” Officer Buchanan said. “The calls have not stopped.”

        Four groups of about 20 women have completed the course so far, and six more sessions have been scheduled, said Sgt. Ed Buns, training supervisor.

        Police offered the course at the request of City Manager Steve Sorrell, Sgt. Buns said. Mr. Sorrell had wondered whether police could help female employees who felt ill-at-ease with the city offices' recent move from the Municipal Building to the unfamiliar One Renaissance Centre, Officer Buchanan said.

        “I think (the course) has put us in a position to be more aware of our surroundings,” said Tari Rulon, a planning department em ployee. “He's presenting it in a way that doesn't make us scared.”

        Among dozens of self-defense courses available, a common flaw is that they pay little attention to the mental aspects of self-defense, Officer Buchanan said, which include mentally rehearsing what to do in various situations.

        He told the story of a man who had decades of martial-arts train ing, but a 15-year-old boy managed to rob him at knifepoint at an automatic-teller machine. “You know what didn't work?” Officer Buchanan asked, then answered: “This,” pointing to his head. “If our expert had been thinking, if he had been aware of his surroundings, that kid would have been tied in knots and that kid would have been wearing that knife like a Popsicle stick.”

        As part of PROTECT, which was developed by a police officer in eastern Ohio, women are taught PEDA: perceive, evaluate, decide, act.

        They also are asked to answer a 50-question “survival checklist” before learning verbal and physical techniques to ward off an attacker.


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