Week 5 was our introduction into fight club. We had just 1 rule: We don’t talk about fight club.
Pysch!!!! In all seriousness, it was all about Defensive Tactics with a dash of drones thrown in for good measure. I’ve gotta be honest, it proved to be a much more difficult subject to summarize for this post than I realized it would be until I got started, so just know that sometimes I go “straight facts with zero humor” due to the sensitive subject matter going forward.
It was raining when class began, which meant the drone portion ( a nice surprise addition to our training we weren’t aware we were going to experience) was inside only so no flying was involved. Mr. Offman (I believe that’s what his name was and if it wasn’t, well, it is for this post) gave us quite a lot of information in a very short time.
In order to even be able to fly a drone the way the PD does they have to get a COA from the FAA, or in layman’s terms, they must apply for a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) via the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); which is an authorization issued by the Air Traffic Organization to a public operator for a specific UA activity (Unmanned Aircraft). The commercial drones the police use are only allowed to fly up to 400 feet high, any higher and they run the risk of intercepting helicopters, which usually fly around 500 feet in/around the city.
There were 3 different drones on display, from small to large. The largest, valued around a cool $30,000, was one of those massive thingymabobbers that had 2 high dollar cameras, one that can zoom in and pretty much let them know if you showered that day or not and the other was a thermal imaging camera that lets them track folks at night. My first thought was, how can they fly something THAT large without it being heard? Well, because it’s quiet, that’s how. He turned that sucker on, and the air flow it generated in the room reminded me of when I used to live in a house with an attic fan. Air whooshed all around us, but it was SUPER quiet, which was pretty cool. Pair that with the normal sounds you’d hear outside, and I could totally see how they are able to run that big ass drone (especially at night) and not be detected. A question was posed during class about whether they would/could use the drones to spy on folks in their own backyards for general purposes, and the answer was a resounding NO. They must have a valid reason to even use the drones, which is usually for tracking someone who has just committed a criminal offense, etc.
Another cool feature worth mentioning; with a WIFI connection, they are able to link up via Zoom and track criminal activity remotely from almost anywhere. (Think of those cool action movies where they run a drone from the back of a van type situation and well, it wouldn’t be too far off base.) Badassary all around. So, if any of you knuckleheads out there are thinking of pulling any hijinks in the Bartlett area, you MIGHT wanna rethink it. They don’t play. PERIODT.
And now, for the portion of the evening I know you all came for: FIGHT CLUB!
I know, I knowuhhh, it’s not called Fight Club, but it’s much more fun for me to say instead of Defensive Tactics. (In full transparency, I keep accidentally calling it “Defensive TACKLE” when speaking about it to my friends, which leaves us all in a fit of giggles). Our instructors, Officer Weibel and Officer Meadows, were SUPER into their subject at hand so any tomfoolery on my end had to be curtailed. I was skeert I’d be made an example of and well, let’s just say I talk a big game via this blog, but when it comes to real life participation, I would probably turn all red and splotchy, get nervous and fart, and generally make an ass of myself. I do that enough as it is without a class full of folks watching while a willing officer of the law happily AND easily puts me in my place.
Let me stop right here and say something in all seriousness. What follows is MY take on what I learned in class, which is extremely limited in TIME and information being given to us inside the timeframe of that class. This subject matter is and can be very sensitive in the context of what’s happening in our society as a whole. This is in no way a BIG picture of their training program, it’s just a splash of information given as a BRIEF inside peek at a very minute version of what they are trained on overall and situations they handle on a daily basis.
There was a full PowerPoint presentation before we got to practice some self defense techniques on each other (fight club!) which was chock full of information in regards to Use of Force, Objectively Reasonable Force, Ask-Tell-Make, and more, which are all used (and presented) within the contexts of the law enforcement arena.
The “Use of Force Policy” (The term use of force, in the context of law enforcement, may be defined as the “amount of effort required by police to compel compliance by an unwilling subject”.) was started in Memphis and I found the following in depth information online in regards to what it entails: Read it HERE. There’s also a concept called “Objectively Reasonable Force” which is force that appears to be necessary given the facts and circumstances perceived by the officer at the time of the event to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose. In plain English it means the officer must make the best call they can with whatever information is available in their current situation.
If you are skilled in hand to hand combat techniques (such as Jiu-Jitsu which I discuss a little later), your confidence naturally goes up (duh). I personally took that information to mean that having that skillset enables you to have the confidence to talk yourself out of about 90% of fights. If you KNOW you can kick someone’s ass, it doesn’t mean you HAVE TO, or necessarily that you WANT TO. It gives you the ability to say to someone (LET ME CLARIFY THAT I’M SPEAKING AS MYSELF AT THIS POINT, NOT AN OFFICER) “Hey, listen, walk away dude. I don’t want to fight you.” but also have the ability to do just that if said person won’t walk away from you. De-escalation is super important when dealing with folks who are mad, or upset. (It’s also a very highly debated subject we’ve seen over and over in the news. Again, I’m not discussing that, just what I learned in class.)
Also, in the law enforcement world there’s the 21 foot rule which states that an average person can sprint 21 feet in roughly 1.5 seconds (I’m good if I can stand up in 21 seconds, let alone freakin’ sprint, sooo, yeah). This is why you see Officers backing up whenever anyone is approaching them in a hostile situation in order to give themselves enough time/distance to pull a weapon if needed, and as a common person out in the world today, I think is a great thing to keep in mind if you ever are approached by someone who appears to be intent on doing you harm. A quick Google search will pull up a TON of opinions on this very subject, so I’ll leave that to the reader to interpret for themselves.
Officer Meadows also spoke on Ask-Tell-Make. This is a stepping stone process an officer is trained on to ask the subject to do something. If they do not comply with the officer’s request, they then tell them to do it. If they do not comply with that command, the officer then makes them do it through the application of physical force. Again, just head over to Google and do some research on your own. I’m only giving this topic a brief mention but I felt it really rounded out all the information we got in an hour or so’s time.
As I mentioned earlier, Jiu-Jitsu training was discussed in the class, not as a necessity for being a police officer, but it was mentioned in terms of if it’s something the officer has been trained on, it can be an extremely useful tool to stop something really bad from happening in a potentially deadly situation. The following video was shown, dissected and discussed as an example of how it can be helpful. (This is an actual real life situation so please keep that in mind when watching.)
Once we were fairly full of information, we got to move out into the lobby where the laying on of hands actually happened. This was really fun. We were given these big body blocks and spongy batons and paired up with partners to practice how to use a baton to stop someone. There’s something quite therapeutic about being able to pummel a hard surface while yelling, “GET DOWN (with your bad self)! GET OFF! STOP, (in the name of love)!” We did that for a bit then moved on to how to get out of a neck hold. We were once again partnered up with someone new, instructed to put our hands around their necks, and then shown how to get out of it. I never knew a shoulder shrug could be so powerful. (There are more steps that that, but those dang shoulder shrugs are quite an effective tool in this situation).
Also, if you need to hit someone defensively, an open palm directly to the chest or nose is pretty powerful, and lessens your risk of breaking a knuckle or two. It’s worth mentioning that, as a woman, I’ve always been taught to do a crotch kick to a man to stop and drop him. Well, we were told in class that a lot of times, if the man’s adrenaline is really high during an attack, they may not even FEEL, (let alone be stopped by) a crotch kick! So, an elbow to the throat and a hard and forceful palm to the chest and nose is pretty effective, all while still kicking ’em where it counts. Yelling for help and telling the attacker to “STOP!!!” and “GET AWAY!!!” causes attention to be given to the situation, which they do NOT want and is useful to try and get them to stop and give you a way to escape or put distance between you and the attacker.
It was recommended that we take some self defense classes if possible. As a survivor of an assault, it’s something I also recommend. Officer Meadows looked at me during the actual hands on portion of the night and made the keen observation that he could tell I’ve swung a few punches in my lifetime. That’s what living in Memphis has done for me. It’s given me that confidence and appearance of “I’ll kick yo ass you mofo if you come one step closer to me.” What can I say? Grit and Grind, babaaay!
All in all, a great night was had by all. Coming up we have a double booked week. This next week’s class is going to be on Crime Scene Processing and SWAT. Then, Saturday, we will be out at the BFD Training Facility doing pursuit course training (apparently they trust us enough to actually drive a squad car on an obstacle course!!!) with a visit to the practice range. Now THAT’s gonna be a lot of fun!
I gotta lot of Bruce Willis movies to go watch before my time on the obstacle course Saturday as “homework”.
Yippee Ki-Ya, mother f*%@er.