Free self-defense classes offered through July 9

The Birmingham Police Department has partnered with Birmingham Park and Rec to offer free self-defense classes for anyone 18 and older. The classes started in February and will be offered through July 9 at various Birmingham rec centers. Classes start at 6 p.m.

The next class will be held on March 5 at Fountain Heights Rec Center. For a complete schedule, please see the flyer.

Birmingham officers will give tips on how to be more aware of one’s surroundings and how to avoid becoming a victim. They will show videos and offer one-one-demos with attendees on what to do if confronted by an attacker. Participants should wear comfortable clothing such as athletic wear and tennis shoes.

“We are working on different ways to bring the police and community together so that people can see police from a different perspective,’’ said Capt. Janice Blackwell. “Several different organizations have asked us to host these classes, so we thought we’d do a string of classes at rec centers as a way to show people how to protect themselves and when they are out with their families.’’

Here are some of their safety tips: 

*Walk with your head up and walk with purpose. Criminals will go for someone who is less aware.

*The best defense is eye contact. Don’t be afraid to make eye contact with someone you pass in a parking lot or on the street.

*Talk to your children about safety and the importance of keeping up with you or the group as you walk to and from your car, in the store, etc.

*As you arrive to an area, assess your surroundings. Take note of lighting, shrubbery, blind spots. These may seem like small things, but they can be big things for criminals to use to get an advantage.

Another way the police department is connecting with residents is through its Community Police Academy, which allows residents to see the type training police officers experience. The class will start on March 24. Most classes will be held at BPD’s police academy.  However, a few classes will be held at West and South precincts.

The Community Police Academy classes will be held every Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m.  The academy is for 12 weeks, and participants may only miss three classes. At the end, participants will receive a certificate.

In the past, the department has had a Citizens Police Academy. But in spring 2019, they changed the name to Community Police Academy.  This year will be the second Community Police Academy.

For more information about the self-defense classes or the Community Police Academy, contact Capt. Blackwell at 205-933-4175.

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