Self-defense course for women free

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

To look at Levy County one could conclude things are pretty idyllic and women are safe. 

A check of Levy County's crime figures for 2012 would find there were 18 forcible rapes and 89 aggravated assaults.

Capt. Ray Tremblay, deputy chief of the Chiefland Police Department, told the Levy County Commission that studies have found 54 percent of rapes are not reported.

He is starting a program to teach women the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) method to use when confronted by a person intending to harm them. A flyer says the program is designed with the needs and strengths of women in mind. 

The first class is Wednesday, July, 31 through Friday, Aug. 2, from 6 to 10 p.m. each evening at D&D Studios, 105 N.W. 3rd Ave., Chiefland. The class size is limited to 20 students. 

“It's a free class for any lady that wants to take it,” he said. Women who sign up for the training will be charged a $25 fee to ensure they show up and complete the program. The money will be refunded on the last night. The fees collected from those who do not show up or do not complete the training goes into the training program. 

For Tremblay, the program is not free. “Unfortunately it's not free to do. I have equipment to buy,” he told the county commission. “It costs just over $9,500.”

Tremblay said he needs to purchase basic classroom materials and supplies, and three suits used in the training that cost $1,300  each. 

He is trying to raise the money by speaking to any group that could possibly help: the Levy County Commission, the Chiefland and Suwannee Valley Rotary Clubs, the Dixie County Commission, the Gilchrist County Commission and the Chiefland City Commission.  The Print Shop in Chiefland has helped with printed materials. Contributions are going to the Friends of Chiefland Police designated for RAD. They can be made at the police department.

Until Tremblay gets the funds to purchase the equipment, the University of Florida Police Department is lending him instructors, equipment and supplies. The university has a RAD program in place for students.

Tremblay is the only certified instructor in the Tri-County Area to teach RAD to help women minimize the risk of an attack. The students will also have the chance to practice the techniques and utilize what they have learned in class simulations. He plans to train others to serve as instructors in the area. 

“We teach them to be aware of their surroundings. We teach them how to keep themselves out of the situations,” Tremblay told the commission. “Having the option to do something helps the healing process in the end.”

And the program is not just for working women. Students heading to college can use the course, he said. “I an going to try to get the schools involved,” he said. “I will go in there and present this program to our juniors and seniors before they go off to college.”

Commissioner John Meeks (R-District 1) asked about the cost of the training after securing the equipment and Tremblay said it would be about $2,000-$3,000. 

Commissioner Mike Joyner worried about the liability of a woman being hurt during the training. Tremblay said the developers of RAD send assistance and the women must sign a liability waiver before taking the course. 

Of, course, Tremblay said the commission should consider that it's not the women they should worry about so much as him. 

“On average in this class i get kicked in the groin 150 times.”