After attending a self-defense class at the Sandy Springs Police Department, two things stood out in my mind.
First, I had been taking my safety for granted, and second, being aware of my surroundings is what will keep me safe in the future.
According to Ronald Johnson, a Sandy Springs police officer who co-taught the class, Atlanta has a higher crime rate than the national average and crime has risen over the last few years.
FBI statistics show that violent crime in the South increased by 1.1 percent from the first half of 2011 to the first half of 2012.
Before Johnson and the other teacher and Sandy Springs police officer, Doug Blount, taught attendees any physical actions and responses, they stressed the importance of having a plan and doing everything you can to protect yourself.
“If you can come up with a plan to survive the worst-case scenario, then you’ve got the rest of it,” said Blount.
The officers suggested having a home invasion plan and practicing it with your family, just like one does with a fire drill.
They said the best option is to get out of the house.
If someone is following you, don’t try to drive to a police or fire station, drive to a business that is open 24 hours, like a grocery store or Walmart.
The three most stolen items from cars are cell phones, laptops and GPS systems, said the class instructors.
To ensure your car doesn’t get broken into, don’t leave any kind of bags in sight, because even if your laptop isn’t in there, someone may still break in.
Another great tip they provided us was to never have your home address plugged into a GPS – this gives someone free range to go to your house and use your garage door opener to get in.
For women who are attacked, tell the attacker any lies you can to catch him off guard, like you’re pregnant, terminally ill or have an STD.
Women who live alone can buy a pair of big work boots, dirty them up and place them outside the front door to give the appearance that a man lives with you or stays there often.
When it comes to fighting, never give up and remember your elbow is your greatest weapon. Never leave the scene of an attack with an attacker. Fight as hard as you can to weaken him and run.
The take-home message from the class is to always be aware and alert, and follow your gut. If something feels wrong, there is never any harm in calling the police — it’s your life on the line.
Information: Self-defense classes are free and open to the public at the Sandy Springs Police Department. They are offered on Thursday evenings once a month. To find out more about the self-defense classes and other classes offered, contact Officer Larry Jacobs at firstname.lastname@example.org.