By Jeremy Pittari, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
PICAYUNE — Female county residents who would like to learn some self-defense moves will soon have a chance. Two officers with the Picayune Police Department, Officers Danielle Lewis and Breonne Spikes, will conduct the training and will show participants how to break holds, use strikes and effectively escape what could be a dangerous situation. Chief Bryan Dawsey said both of the officers have self-defense training they can share with participants, and in April they will attend an advanced self-defense class. Their follow-up training could lead to advanced self-defense classes for the public. The first will focus on basic moves, Dawsey said. A maximum of 20 participants will be accepted for the first class, so participants will be accepted on a first come first serve basis, Dawsey said. Based on the response from the community the department receives, classes could be held on a regular basis for additional sets of participants. The small class size will allow both instructors more time to provide one on one instruction, Lewis said. If more than 20 people apply for the first class, the overflow will be rolled into the next class. The one-time class is expected to last for an hour or two, and will teach participants aged 13 or older how to break an arm grab, hold, shoulder grab and bear hugs and other escape tactics such as knee and palm strikes. Any participant younger than 18 will need to be accompanied by a female adult, Lewis said. Lewis said trainees will not be required to overexert themselves, but participants will be required to sign a disclaimer. Participants who choose to practice the maneuvers via one on one training will have access to training pads. Assistant to the Chief of Police Jeremy Magri said the class is free to the public but there will be a $5 fee to cover the printed training material. However, participants in the first class will have that fee covered by Mayor Ed Pinero Jr., Magri said. Dawsey said the idea to hold the class was partially due to calls he has received from the community asking for such a class. “This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while,” Dawsey said. “We encourage all ladies to take advantage of this free experience to learn to defend themselves.” Lewis said the training criteria is based on training she and Spikes received from the National Self-Defense Institute’s Self-Defense Awareness an Familiarization Exchange (SAFE) Program. Any female resident in the county can reserve a spot for the class by calling the Picayune Police Department at 601-798-7411 and leaving a message for Ginger Bennett or Danielle Lewis. A date and location for the training will be announced at a later date, Dawsey said.